Chapter 948 – A Reason to Change
Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr
The Heavenly Selection ceremony was the most important event of the Demi-human race, but the offerings and celebrations concerning it were incredibly simple, which was very in accord with the personality of the Demi-human race. The morning wind had just begun to blow away some of the thick fog when it was announced that the offerings and celebrations were concluded, with the truly important and more attention-grabbing part of the process about to begin. The formal procedures were similarly simple. It was divided into three sections, with the first being tournaments carried out on the fighting platforms to decide the nine candidates who had the right to enter the Celestial Trees. In the second part, the nine candidates would use the trunks of the Celestial Trees to travel deep underground to be bathed by the Wildfire and receive the trial of the ancestral spirits. If more than one candidate succeeded in making it through this portion, another round of fighting would occur until the final victor was decided, and this would be the one called Heaven's Chosen.
Careful analysis of this process would reveal the good intentions of countless generations of demi-human ancestors. For the sake of simplicity, when the regulations of the Heavenly Selection ceremony were first established, it would have been perfectly fine to place the trial of the ancestral spirits in the last phase, but the current rules made it so that the Heavenly Selection still ultimately depended on one's own power. That the Demi-human race had managed to survive in this savage and dangerous environment until now and even gradually grow stronger had never been because they had relied on the protection of their ancestors or the pity of the heavens. It was because of their will that surpassed the heavens.
It was based on these concepts that even though they knew that they had no chance of becoming the final victor, many young experts from the tribes still participated in today's Heavenly Selection ceremony.
Several dozen fighting platforms were distributed in various districts and tribal gathering grounds within White Emperor City, waiting for warriors to come forward.
The Carp tribe, the fairest tribe of the Demi-human race and the most skilled with numbers, had dispatched many of its most experienced members to judge the outcomes. Meanwhile, both the Demi-human Court and the Council of Elders had dispatched supervising officials to record the events at each fighting platform with the added benefit of being able to bring up questions at any time.
All the demi-human citizens of White Emperor City had already left their homes, heading towards the fighting platforms to see a once-in-a-century spectacle.
The fighting platforms with the most focus on them were the ones in the vicinity of the Imperial Palace and Heavensguard Pavilion. The crowds were so packed that even a drop of water would find it hard to make its way through.
These fighting platforms drew so much attention because they were closest to the Imperial Palace's observation platform, so the Empress and the powerful figures of the Council of Elders were more likely to notice the fights taking place on them. The people who dared to step onto these platforms naturally did not include anyone mediocre. The competitors were assuredly individuals of widespread fame, like Xiaode.
The crowd parted like a tide as Xiaode was escorted to the fighting platform by the elders and experts of his tribe. Along the way, many people yelled out to add to his might.
Demi-humans believed that the strong were worthy of respect, and as the expert publicly acknowledged as the strongest of the middle generation, Xiaode was extremely renowned along the two shores of the Red River. Moreover, his tribe was also extremely powerful, with many supporters in the Demi-human Court and the Council of Elders. In the view of many of the common people, even if the Empress privately favored her nephew, the final victor in this Heavenly Selection ceremony would assuredly be Xiaode. Moreover, only a person like him had the right to marry the princess, the right to become the next sovereign of the Demi-human race.
Xiaode walked onto the fighting platform, glanced at his opponent, and expressionlessly said, "You are no match for me."
His personality had always been cold and arrogant, even somewhat callous and ruthless. He naturally did not speak politely.
But this was still a sign that his personality had already undergone a great change, as he would have been too lazy to even speak to his opponent before.
His opponent was a middle-aged expert of the Meng clan. On another fighting platform, he perhaps might have been able to go very far, but his luck was somewhat disastrous. In his first battle, he encountered the legendary Xiaode, so it was hard for him to hide a little regret and reluctance in his eyes.
Since he was well aware that he was no match, he logically should have conceded. However, this middle-aged expert of the Meng clan did not do this, because demi-humans possessed a most valiant will to fight. They valued reputation above all, even over their lives. He said to Xiaode, "If everyone withdraws because they are no match, then Sir will regretfully not encounter a single challenge today."
The Meng clan expert expressed his respect towards Xiaode in these words and also made his stance known.
The indifferent yellow glow in Xiaode's eyes slightly faded and a pleased expression appeared on his face. "You aren't bad. I will use all my strength."
The Meng clan expert was not panicked by these words. On the contrary he felt honored, saying, "Thank you."
Xiaode took off his cape and threw it off the platform. Gazing at his opponent, he said, "You first."
The first match of the Heavenly Selection ceremony began in this utterly conventional manner.
Everything the demi-humans did was very straightforward and simple, perhaps even violent, whether it was eating or doing business, in political battles or real battles.
Just like the countless battles that took place every day on the shores of the Red River, today's battles proceeded without any originality whatsoever.
Deafening collisions, explosions of dust, the quaking of the ground, and the howling of the wind.
The result of this battle was similarly dull. Completely according to expectations, Xiaode won. Moreover, he had realized the promise he had made before the match, no strength held back in his punches and kicks. With the most violent of dispositions, he had needed only three techniques to severely wound the Meng clan expert.
The blood on the yellow sands of the fighting platform was rather hair-raising. Many of the Meng clan expert's bones had been broken and he lay on the ground, his eyes closed, his death imminent.
A physician of the Demi-human Court and several military doctors with boxes of medicines hurriedly came up to the platform, but the Meng clan expert had been too heavily injured. It even took some time before they were finally able to stop his bleeding.
In any other match or celebration, the Daoist Church of the Western Wastes would have dispatched priests. The Sacred Light technique was very effective on wounds like this and it would presumably have been possible to save the Meng clan expert's life. However, today was the Heavenly Selection ceremony, and that the Orthodoxy did not come to make trouble was already quite the consideration. It was out of the question for them to dispatch priests to assist.
Upon seeing that the Meng clan expert was beyond treatment, the crowds around the platform gradually ceased to cheer, becoming rather quiet. Demi-humans revered the strong and loved to fight, so this sort of sight was extremely common. However, when they thought about how this Meng clan expert of exceptional strength was about to die, the people couldn't help but feel a little strange.
"After you cure him, remember to tell him that he has to return the money used to pay for the medicine."
Xiaode suddenly took a pill of yellowish brown hue and threw it into the hands of the Demi-human Court's physician. After impassively saying those words, he took his leave of the fighting platform.
The Demi-human Court physician stared blankly at the yellow pill, and then with an expression of disbelief.
The people around the platform began to whisper amongst each other and then cry out in shock.
"Could it be the Yellow Tree Thorn?"
"It couldn't be, right?"
The Yellow Tree Thorn was a pill made from the sap of a rare tree in the southern demi-human lands, possessed of the miraculous properties of staunching blood and reviving one's soul. Few were made, making them extremely precious.
Other than the small number of pills sent to the Imperial Palace and the Council of Elders each year, the vast majority of the Yellow Tree Thorns were in the hands of the Shi clan.
As the expert nurtured and supported by the entire Shi clan, Xiaode naturally carried the Yellow Tree Thorn on his person. However, no expected that after he severely wounded the Meng clan expert, he would so liberally use this precious pill to save his opponent's life.
As they watched Xiaode descend the platform, the crowd was stupefied. They felt like his figure was even taller and stronger than rumored.
No matter how ardent the gazes from his surroundings or how reverent the voices around him were, Xiaode appeared unmoved, his visage still apathetic.
The matches on the fighting platform continued and there was still some time until his next match. Walking through the crowd, he was escorted by the experts of his tribe to his carriage.
The clan elder had been sitting in the carriage this entire time.
The clan elder looked at Xiaode with a rather strange expression, tinged with relief, indifference, and confusion. "You've changed a lot in the last few years."
Xiaode quietly thought for a while, then said, "Change is because there is a reason to change."