In just one sentence, the Ghost Emperor of the East made the entire hall tense up. The Ten Yama Kings couldn’t help but gulp.
There was absolutely no way these people had come because of Great Sacred Emperor Equaling Heavens’ ascent. Rather, they’d come to try for the Underworld’s highest seat.
“Ghost Emperor of the East, don’t take this too far.” Ksitigarbha narrowed his eyes. To his side, Diting stared into the crowd as well.
In just a few words, they’d made their intentions clear. Everyone could tell they were aiming for Great Sacred Emperor Equaling Heavens’ former seat.
It was rare to see Ksitigarbha angry. He’d been in the Underworld all this time yet had always detached from worldly affairs, seeking nothing but to redeem wicked souls.
Then these people appeared and shattered the balance and harmony of the Underworld.
Now he was furious.
Sensing Ksitigarbha’s change, the Ghost Emperor of the East smiled calmly, cocked his head to the side, and took a seat. His fingers drummed gently against the sides of the chair as he snorted, “It’s said that the Buddhist Domain doesn’t get involved in worldly disputes. Earth Treasure Bodhisattva, are you planning to get mixed up in all this?”
“Before he left, Great Sacred Emperor Equaling Heavens left this throne to the Fengdu Emperor of the North. Therefore, the highest seat of the Underworld is rightfully his. If you weren’t convinced, you should have come before the Great Emperor’s ascent. Now you’ve come to make trouble after he’s already left? What are your intentions?” As he spoke, Ksitigarbha’s expression grew darker and darker, his words sharper and sharper.
However, the new arrivals simply laughed in response. The Emperor of the East, in particular, shook his head. “Bodhisattva, you’re truly forgetful. Did you already forget what I said earlier? We didn’t know about Great Sacred Equaling Heavens’ ascent.”
“Is it that you didn’t know, or that you refused to believe it?” Ksitigarbha narrowed his eyes. “You didn’t know about his ascent, yet you came here? Does that make sense?”
Neither side backed down.
Ksitigarbha argued, refusing to relent in the slightest. His eyes met the Eastern Emperor’s.
They glowered at each other, sparks flying between them. The Ghost Emperor of the East, still drumming the arms of his chair, glanced at the Fengdu Emperor of the North.
“Northern Fengdu, you’ve got some skill to make the Earth Treasure Bodhisattva go to such lengths for you. It’s a pity, though; even with him here, you won’t be able to protect your throne.”
“Hm? Then what do you think I should do?” said the Northern Fengdu Emperor without the slightest ripple of emotion. Despite everything the Ghost Emperor of the East had said, he still maintained his calm smile.
“I’m currently occupying this seat. So, then… if you’re dissatisfied, how do you propose we resolve this?”
A faint spiritual pressure emanated off his body, filling up the entire hall. His reply, cool and even-keeled as it was, nevertheless rendered everyone unable to speak
Even the Ghost Emperor of the East, the sharpest-tongued of the bunch.
“Emperor of the East, Cai Yulei, Emperor of the North, Du Ziren, and you too, Ghost Gods. You are guardian divinities under my jurisdiction. I am the one who bequeathed you with your titles as Guardian Gods of the Heavenly Palaces all those years ago, now you want to rebel against me?”
As his gaze fell upon the three guardian gods, they subconsciously lowered their heads.
“Don’t tell me I’ve oppressed you to the point you couldn’t help but rebel. This is sad, but also somewhat ludicrous.” No one else in the hall said anything, so the Fengdu Emperor of the North spoke to himself.
As he spoke, he rose from his throne and approached the three guardian gods’ seats.
“Just three days ago I went to visit your Heavenly Palaces. At the time, I saw no sign of rebellion. Why, then, did you suddenly decide to follow Cai Yulei and Du Ziren and rebel against me? Mind telling me?”
They said nothing.
The three simply pressed their lips together and said nothing. The Fengdu emperor of the North nodded calmly at them, then approached the Ghost Emperor of the East.
His adam’s apple bobbed nervously in his throat. Although the highest seat of the Underworld had always been occupied by Great Sacred Emperor Equaling Heavens, the Fengdu Emperor of the North had always been the Underworld’s second-in-command.
He was nominally on the same level as the other Ghost Emperors, but his presence far surpassed the other four emperors.
“What? Want to abuse your status to suppress us?” the Ghost Emperor of the East snorted.
“I’m abusing my position to suppress you? Is that really what you’re saying? Here you are, invading my palace! You’ve even roped Du Ziren and my subordinates, three guardians of the Heavenly Palaces, and come here to cause me trouble. Now you’re saying I’m abusing my position?” The Fengu Emperor of the North snorted back at him, then pointed at his pitch-black throne.
“You came here for that seat, didn’t you?”
“Hmph. If Great Sacred Emperor Equaling Heavens were here, he’d naturally be the one to sit upon that throne. But now that he’s gone, all five of us Ghost Emperors are qualified to take the throne.”
“But Ksitigarbha said it himself: before the Great Emperor left, he passed the throne to me,” said the Fengdu Emperor of the North coolly. “Earlier, you asked me if I’m at ease in my position? To tell the truth, I’m not. That seat represents the weight of the entire Underworld resting on my shoulders. My every word and deed determines the Underworld's future. Don’t be fooled by the throne’s endless glory; the accompanying pressure is equally endless, leaving me without time to even catch my breath. In comparison, I’d be much happier managing my Mount Luofeng, it’s just… to think my little Mount Luofeng has produced three such traitors. What a failure!”
“Hmph, you’ve already occupied the throne. Is there any point in saying all that hypocritical nonsense?” the Ghost Emperor of the East snorted coldly. The way he saw it, the Fengdu Emperor of the North was only saying all that to be polite.
The throne’s glory was endless. Who wouldn’t want to sit at the very top?
“You think I’m deceiving you? Tell me, then, how can I convince you otherwise? Should I abdicate the throne to you? But there’s five of you and only one throne. How do you propose to divvy it up?”
“You don’t need to worry about that,” snorted the Ghost Emperor of the East. “I didn’t come here to force you from your throne. The one who sits in the Underworld’s highest seat must possess exceptional strength if he is to protect the peace. Nevermind the rest, let’s let our fists decide who belongs upon the throne.”
“You want to fight for it?” asked the Fengdu Emperor of the North in surprise.
The Ghost Emperor of the East nodded noncommittally but the Fengdu Emperor of the North shook his head. “That’s no good. The demons are currently running wild. If we fight here, we’ll simply reduce our side’s strength.”
“Then you’re unwilling to give up your seat?” asked the Ghost Emperor of the East darkly. He seemed on the verge of attacking.
“That’s naturally not the case. I already told you I disliked this position.” The Fengdu Emperor of the North shook his head and laughed, then pointed at the throne behind him. “If you dare sit there, I’ll abdicate to you.”