“This is a sea chart of the Heavenly Starry Ocean and all the great ominous lands that contain Holy Spirit Veins. With your current insight, you cannot make out the real from the fake. If you meet just one of these, you will find yourself in an extremely dangerous situation.”
Xiao Chen did not say anything. As he continued looking, he felt some goosebumps. Given his time pressure, he would definitely end up making misjudgments. All it took was one, and he might really lose his life.
“We four great Geomasters draw up Spirit Vein distribution charts when we travel the world. How many you can subdue will depend on your own ability.”
Then, Jiang Tian handed Xiao Chen another sheet of vellum. Like the one before, it indicated the locations of many Holy Spirit Veins in detail. The information was all clear with one glance.
Within an instant, Xiao Chen understood the value of the second sea chart. It was simply a priceless treasure.
Xiao Chen felt suspicious. “Why are you helping me?”
Jiang Tian replied calmly, “It’s the same as I said before. Only you can handle that Hou ghost. Ten thousand years ago, the Azure Emperor killed its physical body. Now, ten thousand years later, you have to be the one to eliminate its soul.
“We are true Geomasters, masters of the land. We guard the balance of the world. That is forever our most basic responsibility. The Hou ghost is an uncertain variable that threatens to destroy this balance.”
It was really hard to imagine that this repulsive old man before Xiao Chen could say such words.
Xiao Chen thought for a while and said, “Senior, since you mentioned the Hou ghost, I have something to say about it. I feel that there is someone controlling the Hou ghost from behind.”
This statement stunned Jiang Tian when he heard it. Then, he laughed and said, “What is the Hou? That is an ancient mutated beast. It kills dragons like killing earthworms. Even if it is dead and has only a soul, it cannot possibly be controlled.”
Jiang Tian’s words sounded extremely certain. When Xiao Chen thought things over, they made sense. The Hou ghost was already so strong. If someone could control it, then how terrifying was the master behind it?
However, even so, Xiao Chen remained dubious in his heart. Earlier, when the Hou ghost was chasing him, he saw what looked like an internal struggle in the eyes of the Hou ghost several times. He was very sure of it.
If it was not someone controlling the Hou ghost and ordering it to consume that evil dragon, clashing with its decision to kill Xiao Chen, what other explanation could there be?
Jiang Tian said indifferently, “Don’t overthink this. It is better for you to focus on how to become a Martial Emperor in five years.
“Before I leave, let me give you some advice: fortune and disaster are hard to differentiate from each other. The matters of the world are like geomancy, where there is no such thing as a fixed outcome. Auspicious and ominous are unpredictable and change frequently.
“I will not beat about the bush but will tell you directly. You look like you have been pushed into a dead end. If you do not advance to Martial Emperor in five years, you will be like a meteor, disappearing after a flash, turning into dust and vanishing.
“In reality, even if there were no issues with your physiological lifespan, you still have to advance to Martial Emperor within five years. Otherwise, you will still end up dead.”
Xiao Chen’s expression changed slightly. He gave the old man a strange look and asked, “Can you explain further?”
Jiang Tian said slowly, “How long do you think the Thunder Sovereign can live? There is no Martial God in the world; no one can achieve immortality. The Thunder Sovereign has already lived for over ten thousand years. Every day he continues living is already in defiance of the heavens and snatching fate.
“If the Thunder Sovereign is no longer around, how can the Supreme Sky Emperor shield you by himself? Before a true major character, killing you would take only a finger.
“Now that such a situation has cropped up, you have a sense of urgency. Now, the odds of you advancing to Martial Emperor within five years have improved slightly. Whether this issue is fortune or disaster, no one can say.”
Xiao Chen’s heart sank. He said with a smile, “I never thought about it this way before. Thinking about it now, it is indeed as Senior says. Fortune and disaster are hard to differentiate from each other.”
Jiang Tian left at the drop of a hat, not hesitating or dragging things out; he instantly vanished from Xiao Chen’s sight.
Xiao Chen unfurled the two sheets of vellum. One represented life, recording all the Holy Spirit Veins that the four great Geomasters had discovered on their travels.
The other represented death, mapping all the great ominous lands that could kill Martial Emperors, filled with all sorts of unpredictable situations guaranteeing demise.
After a while, Xiao Chen tightly grasped the two sheets.
Regular Geomasters were restricted by their own cultivation. They would find it difficult to subdue the dragon and would not be able to deal with the various hidden ferocious beasts.
Xiao Chen possessed the combat prowess of a Great Perfection quasi-Emperor. Furthermore, he had the Dragon Fixing Needles and Dragon Revealing Mirror. With these two dragon-seeking Secret Treasures, he could subdue Spirit Veins single-handedly.
In the many possibilities, forty-nine out of fifty led to a dead end. However, there was no such thing as a complete dead end; there would definitely be a path to life. This was Xiao Chen’s chance at life!
Xiao Chen’s figure wavered, and he vanished from the vast sea. With this, he disappeared for a very long time.
There was no news of Xiao Chen in the Heavenly Starry Ocean. No one knew where the Azure Dragon King went. The Cyclic Astral Palace and the Divine Dragon Palaces of the four seas sent out many scouts. However, they failed to find any clues to his location.
Many different rumors spread all over the place.
Some people said that Xiao Chen had gone to the Penglai Sea, which no one knew the way to, to find medicine to solve his problem.
Some people claimed that Xiao Chen went back to the Kunlun Continent to seek the Thunder Sovereign for help.
Some people insisted that Xiao Chen had already scattered his cultivation and become an ordinary person, for the sake of living past a hundred years. He already completely vanished and would never appear again.
However, as time moved on, everyone stopped talking about Xiao Chen. After all, he was just a genius past his prime. There was no point in continuously discussing him.
This was especially so after news came from the Cyclic Astral Palace: the Sun Palace’s Holy Son and the Moon Palace’s Holy Daughter both broke through to quasi-Emperor at the same time. This made everyone forget about Xiao Chen’s existence.
The gossip about this went wild, and shocking news and rumors about Chu Yang and Fu Hongyao spread out from the Cyclic Astral Palace.
When these two teamed up—combining the sun and moon—they could already defeat Great Perfection quasi-Emperors of the older generation. They could easily defeat a Small Perfection quasi-Emperor when fighting alone.
News about these two appeared incessantly. The Cyclic Astral Emperor, a Prime Martial Emperor, had taken out tens of thousands of years of accumulations of the Cyclic Astral Palace—an Immortal Holy Land.
These accumulations were spent on the Holy Son and Holy Daughter, who also received personal instruction from the Cyclic Astral Emperor. The intent was to let these two advance to Small Perfection quasi-Emperor before the Four Seas Hero Gathering and completely suppress the other Immortal Holy Lands.
However, things were not that simple. These two were not the only ones who had found their great opportunity on the road that buried Martial Emperors.
The Holy Scions of the other Holy Lands did not fall behind. The Myriad Fiend Island’s Di Xinhan, the Heavenly Province Academy’s Young Master Qingshu, the Five Poison Sect’s Tang Xun, and the Yinyang Paradise’s Tong Susu all broke through to quasi-Emperor within a distinct period.
For that period, the entire Heavenly Starry Ocean grew by leaps and bounds. Everyone felt anticipation for the Four Seas Hero Gathering, which would start in another ten months.
With so many outstanding young talents all breaking through to quasi-Emperor together, the Four Seas Hero Gathering that happened once every twenty years would be livelier than any of the previous ones.
There were even some opportunists who started a betting pool about who would dominate and suppress the other talents, obtaining the prize of the Lunar Palace, the Dragon’s Gate’s mountain tablet.
Aside from the Holy Scions of the various Immortal Holy Lands, the heavy favorites were the experts of the previous Four Seas Hero Gathering.
As long as one was not over fifty years old, one could continue to join the Four Seas Hero Gathering. To cultivators who could live for more than three centuries, a fifty-year-old was not old and could, in fact, be considered a youth.
Several of the experts from the previous Four Seas Hero Gathering had only been twenty-odd years old when they participated in the previous one. After the passage of twenty years, they were still a few years away from fifty and remained qualified to participate.
In reality, the main highlight of every Four Seas Hero Gathering was the competition between the old and new outstanding talents.
In every Four Seas Hero Gathering, there would be newcomers rising to the occasion and spreading their names everywhere. There would also be oldtimers who maintained their glory and reputations.
However, this was a great age of geniuses. The new outstanding talents of this generation all came with surging momentum. Some people guessed that the experts of the previous generation would be overwhelmed without a doubt, barring surprises.
Now, everyone was just watching to see if there would be a miracle.
Or perhaps, a strong dark horse would appear out of nowhere. Anything was possible.
In the Western Sea where the Azure Dragon King’s conferred land was, Heavenly Star Island:
Under Lan Shaobai and Jin Dabao’s management, the territory that the Three Holy Lands nearly ruined into desolation was already changed beyond recognition.
Lan Shaobai had taken the Peak Spirit Veins that Xiao Chen passed to him and rebuilt the city. He organized troops and maintained order.
Jin Dabao worked on another angle. Since the Seven Distinguished Dragon Marquises of the Sea Monarch’s old guards had locked down the sea routes in front, he opened a trade route to the Black Sea, completely revitalizing the economy of the island and allowing ordinary people to enjoy an extremely good life.
In the world of cultivation, ordinary people seemed unimportant. Just a single Martial Monarch could kill a large number of them. However, the foundation of the world was made up of ordinary people. Geniuses emerged from ordinary people. They did not bring just prosperity but also hope.
As long as one established a sect and properly nurtured it, after systematic training, these ordinary people would be able to gain accumulations bit by bit.
At this moment, Lan Shaobai, Jin Dabao, Yue Chenxi, Lord Jiu, and the others gathered in a palace on the tallest mountain of Heavenly Star Island.
Aside from Lan Shaobai, all of the rest were frowning, showing expressions of worry.
Yue Chenxi asked, “Dabao, is there still no news of Xiao Chen?”
Jin Dabao shook his head and replied, “None. His last appearance was in the Northern Sea Alliance. After that, there was no news about him anymore. I spent a lot of money in the Black Sea, but I haven’t been able to get any news about him.”
When the others heard that, many sighed softly. They all helped Xiao Chen manage Heavenly Star Island in a very orderly fashion. However, the master of Heavenly Star Island was missing. They did not even know if he was alive or not. How could they feel at ease?
This was especially so when these people had good relationships with Xiao Chen. They were worthy of the word friend. They were more concerned about his life or death than anyone.
Lan Shaobai, who now possessed the temperament of a leader, smiled faintly and said, “This is actually a good thing. If we cannot find him, then those people who want to deal with him will not be able to find him, either. This means that Xiao Chen is, at the very least, safe.”
“However, there is talk spreading everywhere that Xiao Chen will be just like a meteor if he does not advance to Martial Emperor in five years. This is really worrying!” Lord Jiu raised the matter that everyone was worried about and unwilling to say; he was not very good at reading the mood.
The others all immediately looked at Lord Jiu. He seemed to be at a loss as he said, “Am I wrong? This Lord Jiu is not wrong. He has only twenty more years to his lifespan…”
Jin Dabao closed his gold folding fan and used it to rap Lord Jiu on the head. He scolded, “Do you know how to speak? Are you trying to force this Fat Lord to attack you?”
Worry flashed in Lan Shaobai’s eyes. He waved his hand and said, “Let’s not talk about this for now. Without seeing Xiao Chen, we cannot take any of this as real.”
“Dong! Dong! Dong!”
Just at this moment, footsteps came from outside the door. A disciple entered and reported, “Young Master Lan, there is a quasi-Emperor leading many cultivators and requesting entry outside Azure Dragon City.”
Lan Shaobai’s expression turned frosty as he stood up. “That group of Seven Distinguished Dragon Marquises is here to cause trouble again? This is never-ending. Xiao Yu, please invite Elder Qin out. I will go and take a look.”
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