Xiao Chen’s injuries were really severe. If not for his half-step Golden Body, he really would not have dared to clash head-on like that.
However, he managed to hold on in the end. Even without using his Primordial Energy or Azure Dragon Battle Armor, he managed to withstand the palm strike of a Martial Emperor.
“Wait for a moment. Remove your mask and show me your face. Our operation this time is very important. We cannot permit people of unknown origins to come with us,” Old Hong suddenly said just as Xiao Chen was about to treat his injuries, causing the atmosphere to turn very tense.
Old Hong had a knot in his heart over Xiao Chen. Since he could not openly make a move on him, he stirred up some trouble.
For this matter, it was only announced that they were recruiting half-step Martial Emperors. There was no mention of needing clarification of one’s identity. Furthermore, the Dragon Grave Sea never had the rule of checking up on someone else. This was an unwritten taboo among cultivators.
However, Old Hong was a Martial Emperor. Even if he was clearly making trouble, his words still held sway.
Xiao Chen’s heart sank. Unexpectedly, despite being a Martial Emperor, the other party was so narrow-minded. Old Hong even intended to break the unwritten taboo between cultivators.
Xiao Chen did not believe that Old Hong did not know about this taboo. After all, the other party had progressed to Martial Emperor step by step.
“Sorry, I cannot remove my mask. I am unable to comply with your request,” Xiao Chen replied coldly. At the same time, he activated the Cycle Banner hidden in his body, preparing to run at any time.
A murderous intent flashed in Old Hong’s eyes. Instantly, everyone felt tremendous pressure bearing down on them. This was an Emperor’s Might!
“Looks like you do indeed have malicious intents. It is just a mask. What is the problem with removing it? If you are not going to remove it, I will help you to!”
Old Hong was just a First Heavenly Martial Emperor. Did he really think that he was truly unrivaled?
With the other party behaving so overbearingly, Xiao Chen felt angry as well. Do you really think that I am an ant that you can squish at any time? With a thought, he prepared to take out the Cycle Banner and fight with Old Hong.
Just as Xiao Chen was about to make a move, the red-haired middle-aged man, who had been standing beside Yi Ling in silence all the while, suddenly spoke up. Then, with a flash, he cut off Old Hong.
Instantly, the heavy Emperor’s Might vanished. The red-haired middle-aged man blocked all of it, relieving everyone of that pressure.
This action stunned Old Hong, who had not been expecting the red-haired middle-aged man to stop him. Although the red-haired man was also a Minor Heavenly Martial Emperor, this person was a Second Heaven Martial Emperor, stronger than him by one Heaven.
If these two were to really fight with each other, Old Hong would be outmatched.
“Brother Hong, there is no need to quibble with a junior. No matter where you go, there is no rule of investigating a person’s background when adventuring together. Don’t you think so?” The red-haired man’s tone was not challenging, allowing Old Hong a way out of this embarrassing situation.
Speaking up at the appropriate moment, Yi Ling said with a smile, “Old Hong, don’t be angry. He is just a Consummation quasi-Emperor. If he is really conspiring against us, given your strength, wouldn’t you be able to deal with him in minutes?”
Old Hong also felt that he was rather rash. When the other party forced him back a step when he punched, it had embarrassed him.
When he thought about it, he was a bona fide Martial Emperor, yet a junior forced him back. If word of this spread, he would definitely become a joke within the Martial Emperors’ circle.
However, this was clearly not the right moment to make a move. Since he was given a way out of this embarrassing situation, he just went with the flow.
Old Hong put away his Emperor’s Might and looked at Xiao Chen coldly. Then, he said, “On account of Young Master Yi and Brother Zhao, I will not argue with you today. You’d better watch yourself. Don’t let me get a handle on you. Otherwise, you will not be able to die even if you want to.”
Yi Ling laughed. After meditating the matter, he said, “Those who did not pass the test can go now. There will be more opportunities to work together in the future.”
Since Yi Ling gave them notice to leave, the cultivators who did not succeed stood up and left helplessly.
Then, Yi Ling looked at the seven people who passed the test, especially Xiao Chen. Then, he continued, “Everyone can treat your injuries here first. After you have healed, I will tell everyone the details of our cooperation.”
After saying that, Yi Ling led the five Martial Emperors away.
As that Old Hong left, he turned his head back and glanced at Xiao Chen, displaying a distinctly hostile gaze.
This could be considered the best ending. Xiao Chen was not willing to fight to the death at this moment. Furthermore, he was currently severely injured. Fighting now would not be beneficial to him.
However, based on Old Hong’s expression, this matter was clearly not over.
Xiao Chen felt rather depressed in his heart. Unexpectedly, there were such narrow-minded people among Martial Emperors as well. He was just unwilling to expose his strength and had not been purposely trying to force back Old Hong and embarrass him.
However, the other party was really unreasonable. Even so, Xiao Chen did not fear him. Since Old Hong did not make a move now, Xiao Chen would be even more confident after healing.
Without thinking any further, Xiao Chen tossed a peak King Grade Medicinal Pill for treating injuries into his mouth. Then, he sat down cross-legged and started treating his wounds.
As for the Sage Grade Medicinal Pills from the Thunder Emperor’s inheritance, he did not use any of them. He possessed only three Sage Grade Medicinal Pills for treating injuries. For every one that he used, that would be one less. Now was not the time to use one.
The people in the pavilion anxiously treated their wounds. The place was silent as time slowly passed.
Half a day later, Xiao Chen opened his eyes, already recovered from most of his injuries. As for the rest, they would automatically heal over time.
This time, he had indeed been significantly injured. Even with his half-step Golden Body and a peak King Grade Medicinal Pill, he had still spent half a day recuperating.
Xiao Chen swept his gaze around and saw that the six half-step Martial Emperors were still treating their injuries.
Not having anything else to do, he started simulating the earlier test with Old Hong in his mind.
Twenty Dragon Force was equal to one hundred thousand tons of force. However, when it clashed with those ten strands of Primordial Energy, it paled in comparison. Xiao Chen estimated that he would need at least one hundred Dragon Force to hold his own when clashing with the other party.
Old Hong only casually threw a palm strike, and it was as steady as a huge mountain. His usage of Primordial Energy was much more practiced than Xiao Chen’s.
As for those ten strands of Primordial Energy, they were clearly much purer and denser than Xiao Chen’s. He was rather fortunate to have been able to withstand them. Thinking back on it, he had taken too much of a risk.
As Xiao Chen simulated the earlier test, the six half-step Martial Emperors roused one after another. When they woke up, similar strange lights flashed in all their eyes.
As if they had made an agreement beforehand, five of the half-step Martial Emperors stood up at the same time and moved away, avoiding Xiao Chen as if he was the plague. Only the middle-aged man with the burn scars on his face did not. Instead, he stood up and walked over to Xiao Chen.
Xiao Chen quickly understood the five’s actions with just a quick thought. He had already offended Old Hong, making that Martial Emperor want to kill him. These people feared having a connection to Xiao Chen and causing Old Hong to take out his anger on them.
Xiao Chen understood how these people felt and did not mind it in his heart. However, he could not understand the intent of this middle-aged man in walking over to him.
“Can I sit here? Let me introduce myself. I am Wang Yuzhu. I am the Supreme Elder of a Rank 8 sect in the Storm Sea,” the middle-aged man said in a friendly manner.
Xiao Chen made a gesture of invitation and said, “Naturally, you can. However, you’ve got to tell me this: the others are all avoiding me like I’m the plague, so why are you not afraid at all to come over?”
Wang Yuzhu smiled helplessly. However, the burn scars on his face made this smile somewhat unsightly.
“Even if I go farther away from you, would we no longer be ants to those Martial Emperors?”
The counter-question stunned Xiao Chen. These words were rather simple, but some people simply could not think of it.
“I’m Ye Chen. Of course, that is just an alias. Have a seat.”
Shock flashed in Wang Yuzhu’s eyes. This masked youth was truly rather unfathomable. He was far from a simple Consummation quasi-Emperor.
As the two sat together, they chatted casually. After some time, the topic of conversation naturally turned to this exploration of the Distant Sea Dragon Grave.
“Speaking of which, LIttle Brother Ye Chen, you are already a Consummation quasi-Emperor at such a young age. You will definitely be able to advance to Martial Emperor in the future. Why are you risking your life and entering the Distant Sea Dragon Grave with us? You are even following a group of Martial Emperors, who are clearly stronger than you.”
Xiao Chen thought for a while before replying, “When my clan was flourishing, every Clan Head would make a trip to the Distant Sea Dragon Grave. I want to know why. Of course, I do not hold any hope for this trip. I only want to scout ahead so I can explore it alone in the future, to see if I can obtain any useful information.”
As for why Xiao Chen chose to follow this group of Martial Emperor, he did not say it. Even if he said it, Wang Yuzhu would not believe it, that with his trump cards, he was confident of protecting himself from this group of Martial Emperors.
“Let’s talk about you. Why is it that even though you clearly know that this group of Martial Emperors is using you as a pawn, you still want to follow them into the Distant Sea Dragon Grave?”
Revealing a somewhat aggrieved expression, Wang Yuzhu replied somewhat sullenly, “Of course, it is to advance to Martial Emperor.”
“Advance to Martial Emperor?”
Xiao Chen felt somewhat confused. Half-step Martial Emperors had already been through the Great Tribulation of wind and fire. Furthermore, they failed it. Could it be that they could take it again?
Wang Yuzhu sensed Xiao Chen’s confusion. He explained, “Of course, you can take it again. It is just that no one dares to try. After one fails the Great Tribulation of wind and fire and manages to survive, they will always have some remnant hidden injuries.
“Without clearing the hidden injury, one would definitely not survive taking the Great Tribulation a second time. However, it is possible to remove these hidden injuries. Some divine medicines from the Distant Ancient Era are capable of this, giving half-step Martial Emperors another chance to undergo the Great Tribulation of wind and fire.”
Xiao Chen now understood. It turned out that there was still such a thing. This was the first he was hearing of it.
“Such divine medicine that can treat hidden injuries should be extremely rare, right?”
Wang Yuzhu smiled bitterly. “It is not just rare. Whether it really exists or not is a mystery. It has already been several thousand years since such divine medicine last surfaced.”
When the masked Xiao Chen heard this, he felt extremely shocked.
This was too obsessive. All for the sake of a hope that they did not know existed or not, they were willing to put down their dignity and accompany a group of aloof Martial Emperors, risking their lives in a great forbidden land.
Wang Yuzhu knew what Xiao Chen was thinking. A fiery light flashed in his eyes as he said, “You won’t be able to understand how we half-step Martial Emperors feel. We are clearly just half a step away but are unable to advance to Martial Emperor. While most of the world fear and respect us, before true Martial Emperors, we are just existences like pigs, dogs, or even ants, without any dignity at all.
“We already clearly touched that door but could not push it open, forming the Heart of an Emperor. No one would desire this more intensely than we half-step Martial Emperors.”
Wang Yuzhu’s aggrieved yet fervent expression stunned Xiao Chen somewhat.
The sight of Wang Yuzhu down on his knees after receiving Old Hong’s punch, then gritting his teeth and standing up afterwards, despite looking like he would fall over, appeared in Xiao Chen’s mind.
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