When Zhou Wu suggested becoming sword brothers, the surrounding air seemed to come to a standstill.
Ye Zichen, who’d just lifted his leg to walk away, lowered his foot, then stared back at God Emperor Zhou Wu in wide-eyed shock, as if trying to remember what he was trying to say.
Becoming sworn brothers?
Him and Zhou Wu?
What on earth was the God Emperor thinking so even suggest such a thing?
Xuan Ji looked back around, her eyes wide with disbelief. Not even she had any idea what the God Emperor was thinking.
In the face of everyone’s befuddlement, God Emperor Zhou Wu laughed. “I was just joking. Go on, then.”
“We’ll take our leave, then.” Xuan Ji bowed to him, wrapped her divine power around Ye Zichen, and led him away.
Zhou Wu watched them leave. Finally, when they disappeared from view, he chuckled. “What do you think? Could you discern anything?”
The Divine Arbiter pressed her lips into a smile. “I tested them earlier. When I brought you up, his emotions shifted dramatically. I can’t say for sure whether he really is Five Element’s inheritor or not, as he hid himself too well. I only caught a single instant of shock, but afterward, he showed no signs of anything out of the ordinary.”
“He really did hide his true thoughts awfully well,” confirmed the God Emperor. “Is there anything else?”
“Xuan Ji’s behavior was a bit strange.”
“She intentionally brought up my juniors several times,” said the Divine Arbiter after some thought. “Although she made it sound casual, I could tell she did it deliberately, as if she wanted a certain someone to hear it.”
“Who do you think she intended to hear it?” asked Zhou Wu.
“I imagine it was for his sake, because that girl beside him showed no signs of emotions at all throughout this entire process,” said the Divine Arbiter.
After hearing her analysis, God Emperor Zhou Wu’s smile broadened. His fingers drummed against the table. He looked ahead and narrowed his eyes. “They’re gone already. It seems they have no desire to linger within the bounds of my domain.”
“Your Majesty, the way I see it, Xuan Ji isn’t necessarily….” before the Divine Arbiter could finish her sentence, the God Emperor interrupted her.
“Don’t speak rashly.”
The Divine Arbiter hurriedly shut her mouth. She dared say no more.
Zhou Wu was still smiling as he watched the snow bunnies prance around outside.
“How much of what he said do you think we can trust?”
“You’re referring to…?”
“Everything he said,” said Zhou Wu.
Ye Zichen’s acting had been on point. Not even the God Emperor could tell what was real and what was fake. From his expressions to the glint in his eyes, to the beating of his heart and the timing of his breaths, Ye Zichen’s acting revealed no flaws.
And yet, the God Emperor was well aware that Ye Zichen was putting on a performance.
As for why he’d do that, Zhou Wu could guess, but he didn’t want to discuss that right now. At the moment, he was more concerned with what Ye Zichen had said.
The Outside was on the brink of destruction.
The Master of the Stars had fallen.
If he shared this news with anyone else, they’d assume he was lying, but when Ye Zichen said it, Zhou Wu got the sense that he was telling the truth.
If Ye Zichen wanted to lie, there was no need to come up with something so outrageous.
As such, the God Emperor somewhat believed him.
Then there was the diagram on the table.
Transcendence wasn’t just the next step in a cultivator’s journey, but rather, a way of escaping the bounds of the framework of cultivation altogether. This concept was new to him, and while it wasn’t quite enough to enlighten him, the path ahead suddenly seemed clearer.
It was fair to say that of all he’d obtained here today, the diagram was the God Emperor’s greatest profit.
“The way I see it,” started the Divine Arbiter after thinking it over, “We can trust about seventy percent of what he said. I believe what he said about the Outside’s situation, including the death of their Master of the Stars. The only part worthy of further scrutiny is what he said about transcendence.”
“It seems we’re on roughly the same page.” He smiled calmly, as did she.
Most cultivators only became dimly aware of the possibility of transcendence after becoming rulers. Transcendence was the dream of all top experts, regardless of their Era. It was something they longed for even in their dreams.
Everything Ye Zichen had said sounded reasonable. His friend might very well have wound up in the Outside through some stroke of fate. Going Outside for a bit to spend time with a friend? Well, there was nothing wrong with that.
The issue was, why on earth would the Outsiders discuss such secrets with a small-fry, a weakling who’d yet to even become a diviner?
It was clear from how he spoke that Ye Zichen was feigning fear and insipidness.
He said over and over that he didn’t understand what was happening, or that he didn’t pay much attention to what the Outsiders had said, yet despite that, when he gave his explanations, he provided a clear overview of the key points. Although he didn’t explain it in detail, the overall situation was clear.
Furthermore, he wasn’t a diviner yet, and he didn’t seem to have the Emperor Star’s celestial fate. If Ye Zichen wasn’t the Emperor Star, why would the outsiders bother discussing transcendence with him? Was he a Fated Star or Auxiliary Star? Did they want Ye Zichen to find the Emperor Star, then notify him?
Everyone knew that the Fated and Auxiliary Stars served only to the Emperor Star. You could say they were loyal, or if you were less polite, you could say they were blindly obedient. There was no way they’d spread news that could benefit the Emperor Star, not unless the Emperor Star himself gave them permission.
In their discussion just now, Ye Zichen had effectively kept quiet even in the face of Zhou Wu’s repeated questioning.
Zhou Wu might have thought him an Auxiliary or Fated Star, but his pretense of terror and putting everything out in the open made the God Emperor suspicious.
If he wasn’t an Auxiliary or Fated Star, the only other possibility was that Ye Zichen really was the Emperor Star.
If that was the case, everything was easy to explain, from the Outsiders telling him how to transcend to the Xuan-Yuan Sword and Yao-Sealing Pagoda accepting him as their master. All of it was perfectly understandable.
“Really…” God Emperor Zhou Wu sighed and pursed his lips, then looked back at the ladder diagram.
“Your Majesty, I believe we can at least try it. Regardless of whether he was telling the truth or not, you have the Emperor Star’s celestial fate backing you. The method of transcendence he brought up is novel. With it, you might really be able to transcend,” said the Divine Arbiter.
“That’s exactly what I was thinking.” Zhou Wu nodded, then stared intently at the still-erupting volcano.
Ever since the Five Elements had destroyed his Great Dao of the Five Elements, the God Emperor had spent tens of thousands of years trying to piece it back together and restore the dao heart. He’d already mastered wind, rain, thunder, and lightning, condensing one dao heart for each of the lesser elements. It was only fire that eluded him. He’d spent countless days on it, yet he couldn’t take that final step.
He’d once thought that he needed to master fire to transcend. Otherwise, there would have been no need for the Five Elements Great Emperor to destroy the Five Elements Dao Heart.
Zhou Wu had always held onto this thought, which is why he focused his efforts on mastering the dao. Yet he’d been trapped here for so long, unable to condense the Dao Heart of Fire. As time went on, he started to lose hope.
But then Ye Zichen suddenly shared the path to transcendence. This effectively opened a new path for the God Emperor.
“Achieving true mastery of the Dao of Fire will likely be difficult, but the method he suggested really is an opportunity. I’ll have to give it my best shot.” The God Emperor’s eyes glinted, then shone with radiant light.Previous Chapter Next Chapter