Pure white without so much as the slightest blemish.
An imposing and majestic golden throne sat within this vast and timeless space.
Below it was two maroon-striped chairs gilded with the formal variants of the characters "one" and "two," respectively.
Next were eight ordinary chairs arranged in a straight line below the other three. Their surfaces were stamped with the formal variants of numbers three through ten.
Each had a person sitting in it. Those people were all subordinates of the peak-level powers of the Three Realms.
"It seems that, of the three major powers, the Heavenly Court has the advantage in numbers," said the Flame Emperor, who loved the color white and sat atop the seat embossed with the character for "six." He smiled and fanned himself as he glanced at the North Pole Emperor seated in the chair marked "three."
The North Pole Emperor nodded and smiled modestly. "It's nothing so impressive; in truth, our three powers have roughly equal numbers."
"Think back to the last struggle for supremacy all those years ago. Back then, the Jade Emperor still sat in the second seat. Only the Amitabha Buddha could compete with him. But this time, the Jade Emperor has already ascended and become a god. He's left the rest of our generation far behind," said Suiren, seated in the seventh seat. He absolutely wasn't just being modest.
Within the entire Three Realms, he could be considered an ancient figure. There was none of his generation left except for the Jade Emperor and Great Emperor Equaling Heavens.
The Jade Emperor's ascension had deeply impacted him, but he wasn't upset....
He actually wasn't all that ambitious and didn't particularly long for life in the God Realm. You could say that, within the Three Realms, his strength had reached the peak, but if he were to go the God Realm, who knows? He might only be a small-fry.
Better to be the head of a chicken than the tail of a phoenix.
That was his philosophy!
"You old guys are all so relaxed, bringing up this and that," called out an ill-timed voice. "Why haven't you mentioned the fact that the people in first and second place haven't arrived yet? What's the deal? Is sitting next to the adjudicator so awesome they can just arrive late?"
The others turned to look and saw Yang Jian sitting cross-legged atop the last of the chairs and squinting at them, his speech coarse and interspersed with expletives.
The North Pole Emperor Frowned. Saying something like that in a place like this, was he trying to ruin the Heavenly Court's reputation?
"What? Am I not allowed to speak?" he said, staring at him as if pleased with himself.
The others were pleased as well. The Heavenly Court, Underworld, and Immortal Region were originally enemies. As the common saying goes, you aren't the one who understands yourself best. Rather, it's your enemies.
Yang Jian was the War God of the Heavenly Court. Naturally, the other two powers had prioritized investigating him.
For him to talk like this under these circumstances was not worth getting surprised over. The result of their earlier investigation was that, although Yang Jian's strength was truly exceptional, his intelligence was low....
He was very capable of getting into petty arguments and stirring up trouble.
That said, they were rather surprised that he sat in the tenth seat. Sitting here meant that you were within the top ten of the Reputation Leaderboard, and were therefore a peak-level existence within the Three Realms.
Acquiring reputation depended on trust, absorbing the power of faith, and contributions to the Three Realms.
Yang Jian had always simply stood beside others on the board. No one would've guessed that, this time, he'd been able to sit in one of these chairs.
"It still isn't time yet,‘ smiled Ksitigarba warmly. "War-god Yang, it's best to be patient."
He was clad in deep green Buddhist robes and rubbed his own chair. It was the ninth of the ten seats, and the only one occupied by the Underworld.
"What? They'll arrive at the last minute?" he called out, glaring hotheadedly. "I'm confused. You Buddhists arrive at the last minute every year, so I can let it slide. But this time even the second-ranked person is coming at the last minute. Is he from the Buddhist Region too? And what about the Emperor? What's he up to? He didn't use to be like that!"
"I don't know either," said Ksitigarbha with a smile.
"The Emperor probably won't come," said Fuxi, who was seated in the fifth chair. He squinted intently at the empty fourth seat and laughed dully, "I suspect he's breaking through to godhood as we speak and has no time to participate in the struggle. It seems that the Underworld will have to choose a new leader soon."
As he said this, his gaze lingered on Ksitigarbha, intentionally or otherwise, as if searching for hints in his expression.
However, Ksitigarbha simply maintained his calm smile, revealing nothing at all.
"I really don't understand you major powers at all,“ said Yang Jian contemptuously. Then he pouted at Fuxi and said, "both the Heavenly Court and the Underworld have had someone ascend to godhood. Does your Immortal Region have any good news as well? If not, you're somewhat behind."
"Breaking through and ascending can't be forced," said Fuxi. "Furthermore, our Immortal Region has no desire to compete with the other two realms."
'This is the first time I've heard incompetence sound so pure and refined," said Yang Jian, seemingly unable to keep his dirty mouth shut.
By now, the North Pole Emperor's face was practically purple with rage. Getting into arguments at home was one thing, but he didn't restrain himself even in a place like this.
Fuxi's expression froze as well. He didn't want to argue with Yang Jian, but what after what he'd just said...
He really wanted to beat the crap out of him!
The Flame Emperor coughed lightly in a timely manner and changed the subject. "The Three Realms can currently be considered a defensive alliance to ward of the demons. In that case, can't we tell each other who exactly will sit in the second throne and which power he hails from? Our Immortal Region is quite curious about it. I'll say this upfront: whoever it is, they aren't from the Immortal Region."
"They aren't from the Heavenly Court either," said the North Pole Emperor, frowning at the throne. "If they were from the Heavenly Court, they would've told me, or reported to the Jade Emperor while he was still in power. We've received no news of any kind, so they couldn't possibly be one of ours."
The group looked over at Ksitigarbha, but all they got was....
The same calm smile as before.
"Could you quit acting so deep and mysterious all the time? You guys from the Buddhist Region are so... to tell the truth, you piss me off the most," said Yang Jian. He was picking fights again, but this time his words won the others' approval.
He was absolutely right.
The people of the Buddhist Region were truly irritating. No matter what you asked them, they would either just smile at you or give you just one sentence...
"I can't say."
If they knew something, like, for instance, who the owner of the second seat was, they should quit being so stingy and just say it!
If they knew, why keep it secret? Sooner or later, everyone would find out anyway.
"War-God Yang, please calm down," smiled Ksitigarbha, but his unhurried tone really got on the others' nerves.
"Ksitigarbha, if you know, then tell us!" said the North Pole Emperor. "Could it be someone from the Underworld?"
"How could that be?" he said, shaking his head. "Have you seen anyone from the Underworld rise to prominence lately? Someone who could occupy that second seat couldn't possibly be unknown."
"Then it's not someone from the Underworld...."
"So it's someone from the Immortal Region?"Previous Chapter Next Chapter