The First Arc: Bloody Rain Reaching Towards a Flower
Chapter 2: Scrap-Collecting Immortal’s Third Ascension to Godhood
“Congratulations, Your Royal Highness the Crown Prince.”
Hearing those words, Xie Lian raised his head and smiled before he spoke, “Thank you. But may I ask what you’re congratulating me for?”
Ling Wen ZhenJun1 stood with her arms crossed as she said, “Congratulations for getting first place on the list of ‘Heaven’s Officials most anticipated to be demoted and banished to the mortal realm’.”
Xie Lian replied, “No matter how you say it, it’s still first place. But I think that if you’re congratulating me, then it should still be a position worth being happy about?”
Ling Wen stated, “Yes, if you’re first, you can get one hundred merits.”
Xie Lian responded immediately, “Next time, if there’s another list like this, by all means, please put me on it.”
Ling Wen asked, “Do you know who is in second place?”
Xie Lian thought for a moment before replying, “That’s too hard to guess. After all, just based on strength, I alone ought to be able to take the top three places.”
Ling Wen answered, “That’s more or less right. There isn’t a second place. The moment you started, others could only see your dust with no hopes of catching up.”
Xie Lin said, “I dare not accept the honor. Who was the first place winner from the previous years?”
Ling Wen stated, “There wasn’t one because this list was created this year. More accurately, it was set up today.”
“Eh,” Xie Lian blanked for a bit before asking, “Based on what you said, this list wasn’t created specifically for me, was it?”
Ling Wen responded, “You can think of it as luckily winning merely because you were coincidentally in time for it.”
Xie Lian said with a face full of smiles, “Alright, if I think about it like that, I’ll be slightly happier.”
Ling Wen continued to say, “Do you know why you would seize first place?”
Xie Lian replied, “Everyone expects it.”
Ling Wen explained, “Let me tell you the reason. Please look at that clock.”
She lifted her finger to point, and Xie Lian turned around to look in that direction. What one could see there was extremely beautiful. Gazing into the distance, one could see a palace made out of white jade, pavilions and kiosks, immortal clouds curling about with flowing streams and flying birds.
Xie Lian gazed for a long time before asking, “Did you perhaps point in the wrong direction? Where’s the clock?”
Ling Wen replied, “I didn’t point in the wrong direction. It’s there, have you seen it yet?”
Xie Lian looked carefully again before truthfully saying, “I don’t see it.”
Ling Wen responded, “You’re right not to see it. Originally, there had been a clock there, but it was shaken off when you ascended.”
“That clock was even older than you. Nevertheless, it had a lively and vivacious character. Every single time someone ascended, it would ring a few times to cheer them on. But on the day you ascended, it rang like it had gone crazy, unable to stop. Only when it fell down from the clock tower did it calm down. However, when it fell down, it smashed into a passing Heavenly Official.”
Xie Lian asked, “This… Then, are they okay now?”
Ling Wen: “No, they’re still being repaired…”
Xie Lian: “I’m referring to the Heavenly Official who was hit.”
Ling Wen replied, “The one who got hit was a martial god. He turned his hand over on the spot and split that clock into two halves. But now, please look over there at that golden palace hall. Do you see it?”
She pointed again, and Xie Lian’s gaze followed her finger once more. He saw a vast area covered in mist and clouds, before seeing the top of a resplendent palace roof made out of gold glass. Xie Lian said, “Ah, I see it this time.”
Ling Wen responded, “If you see something, that means there’s something wrong. Originally there had been nothing there.”
“When you ascended, many Heavenly Officials’ golden palaces shook to the point that their golden pillars toppled over, and their glazed roofs shattered. Some palaces couldn’t be repaired in a short period of time. Without any better options, many people improvised and built new and temporary places.”
“I’m to blame?”
“You’re responsible for it.”
“Uh…” Xie Lian asked to confirm, “Did I happen to offend many Heavenly Officials the moment I came up?”
Ling Wen answered, “If you can redeem yourself, then perhaps you won’t.”
“What can I do to redeem myself?”
“That’s easy to answer. Eight million, eight hundred and eighty thousand merits.”
Xie Lian smiled again.
Ling Wen said, “Of course, I know even one-tenth of that is something you can’t take out.”
Xie Lian replied in a frank and genuine manner, “How do I say this? Although I’m truly sorry for the inconveniences, even if you requested one ten thousandth of that, I still won’t be able to take it out.”
The conviction of believers in the secular world could be converted into a Heavenly Officials’ spiritual power. Every incense stick they burned as offerings was called ‘merits’.
His smile disappearing, Xie Lian seriously asked, “Would you be willing to punt me down from here with one kick, and then give me eight million, eight hundred and eighty thousand merits?”
Ling Wen stated, “I am a literature god. If you want someone to kick you, you ought to find a martial god. The harder you get kicked, the more merits you’ll receive.”
Xie Lian heaved a deep sigh. “Allow me to think about what to do.”
Ling Wen patted his shoulder and said, “Don’t lose your head. When you encounter a mountain, there will always be a way through.”
Xie Lian responded, “In my case, when the boat reaches the pier head, it will naturally sink.”
If it was eight hundred years ago, during Xian Le nation’s most prosperous time, eight million, eight hundred and eighty thousand merits weren’t a big problem. His Royal Highness the Crown Prince would wave his hand and give them, not even blinking over such a loss. But the present was now different from the olden days. In the secular world, all of his temples had already long burned away, not a single one remaining. He had no believers, no incense, and no worship.
It was needless to say more. He just had nothing, nothing, not a single thing!
One person squatted at the edge of the Immortal City’s main street as they had a headache for quite a while, before he suddenly remembered something. It had already been almost three days since he had ascended, yet Xie Lian had not entered the spirit communication array. Just then, he had also forgotten to ask Ling Wen for the password.
The Heavenly Officials who had ascended united together to create a spirit communication array. It was possible for them to use their divine sense and immediately communicate with each other within the array; and after ascending, it was imperative for the new gods to enter it. However, one must know the password to be able to locate the particular array. It had already been eight hundred years since Xie Lian had last entered the spirit communication array, thus he certainly hadn’t remembered the password. So he released his divine sense to look around before he found an array that seemed to resemble it. As he casually entered, he was immediately hit in all directions by violent and excited voices so powerful that he became a bit unsteady.
“Place your bets, no take-backs! Come bet how long our Royal Highness the Crown Prince can persevere before he’ll have to descend once more!”
“I bet one year!”
“One year is too long, last time he only lasted the time span of one incense stick. Perhaps this time he’ll persist for three days? I’ll place a bet for three days, three days!”
“Don’t ah, you dunce! Three days have almost gone by already. Are you gonna be okay?”
… Xie Lian silently left the array.
Wrong place. It definitely couldn’t be this one.
The deities in Heaven were all big-shot Heavenly Officials who oversaw their own region; and each one of them were a household name among a great number of people. Because they were all Heavenly Officials who had seriously cultivated to ascend, they were dignified and were usually quite reserved. More often than not, their speech and behaviour had an air of arrogance. There would only be him who, because he had been too excited the first time he had ascended, had went and grabbed every Heavenly Official in the spirit communication array to make his greetings. Xie Lian had been incomparably earnest as he introduced himself, and his thoroughly detailed introduction was unparalleled.
After he had retreated from the previous array, he began randomly searching once more. Finally, he casually entered another array again. After entering this time, Xie Lian relaxed a bit as he mentally thought: “It’s so quiet here. This is probably the one.”
At that moment, he heard a voice lightly say, “Your Royal Highness the Crown Prince has returned again?”
At first, this sound was extremely comfortable to hear. The voice was soft and the tone was gentle. However if one listened to it closely, they would realize that the voice sounded extremely cold, and the speaker’s tone appeared very indifferent as well. Thus, it made that gentleness seem as if it harboured some evil intentions.
Originally, Xie Lian had wanted to enter the array in a restrained and well-behaved manner. Silently lurking there was good enough. However, since someone was already looking for him to chat, he couldn’t pretend to be mute and deaf. He was also extremely happy that a Heavenly Official in Heaven was still willing to take the initiative to talk to him, a god personifying pestilence. Thus, he quickly replied, “That’s right, ah! Hello everyone! I returned again.”
How would he know that after this one question and response—every Heavenly Official in the spirit communication array at that moment all perked up their ears.
That Heavenly Official continued to speak in a leisurely manner, “This time, Your Royal Highness the Crown Prince’s ascension made a really big commotion, ah.”
Within Heaven, it could even be said that monarchs were walking around everywhere, while heroes were as common as water flowing in rivers.
If one wished to become an immortal god, they must first become an outstanding individual. In the mortal realm, people who achieved and accomplished many goals or people who had a lot of talent, of course, had a larger opportunity to ascend. As a result, it wasn’t exaggerated to say that princesses, princes, and generals weren’t a rare sight to see here. Who wasn’t a proud child of the Heavens? However, everyone was still extremely polite and courteous to each other, calling one another ‘Your Majesty’ or ‘Your Highness’ or ‘General Lord’. They would say whatever sounded more complimentary. But for the prior words spoken by the Heavenly Official, that title he used no longer sounded like a polite gesture.
Although Xie Lian had been a Crown Prince, and the other had greeted him thus—his tone didn’t have even a bit of respect. It rather sounded as if he was trying to use a needle to stab someone. There were many other Heavenly Officials who had been genuine Crown Princes within the spirit communication array, and those few greetings simply made goosebumps appear on their backs as they felt uncomfortable from head to toe. Xie Lian also heard the ill intentions in the other’s voice, but he did not want to make a scene. Thinking to himself that he would escape, he replied with a smile, “It was okay.”
However, the Heavenly Official didn’t give him a chance to escape. He spoke in a voice that was neither warm nor cold, “Huh, Your Royal Highness the Crown Prince is okay? My luck was not that good.”
Suddenly, Xie Lian heard a whisper from Ling Wen.
She only said a single word, “Clock.”
Xie Lian instantly understood. So this had been the martial god who got smashed by that clock!
If that was the situation, then the Heavenly Official being angry wasn’t something without reason. Xie Lian had always been extremely good at apologizing and thus immediately said, “I’ve heard about the incident with the clock. I’m extremely sorry, please pardon me.”
The other snorted once, making it impossible for anyone to tell what he meant by it.
There were many martial gods within Heaven and among those, quite a few were new upstarts who had ascended after Xie Lian left. This was why he was unable to pinpoint which god this was just by listening to his voice. However, one couldn’t apologize without even knowing the other’s name. Thus, Xie Lian went to the heart of the matter and asked, “Excuse me, may I ask how I should address you, distinguished one?”
The moment he said those words, the other party became silent.
It wasn’t only the other god who became silent. The entire spirit communication array seemed to freeze as if a puff of stagnant air slapped everyone in the face.
On the other side, Ling Wen whispered to him once more, “Your Highness, though I don’t believe you haven’t recognized the other person after talking to him for so long—I still want to remind you. That is Xuan Zhen.”
Xie Lian asked, “Xuan Zhen?”
He choked up in a flash before finally reacting as he sent a message back in slight shock, “This is Mu Qing?”
Xuan Zhen Jun was a martial god who kept watch over the Southwest. He had seven thousand temples, and in the mortal realm, his reputation was illustrious.
This Xuan Zhen Jun, who had the personal name Mu Qing, used to be a deputy general in the Palace Halls of Xian Le country’s Crown Prince eight hundred years ago.
Ling Wen was also very shocked. “It couldn’t be that you really didn’t recognize him?”
Xie Lian replied, “I really didn’t recognize him. Back then, he didn’t talk to me in this manner. In addition, I can’t even remember when was the last time I met him. If it wasn’t five hundred years then it was six hundred years ago. I almost completely forgotten what he looked like, so how could I still recognize his voice?”
It remained silent within the spirit communication array. Mu Qing didn’t make a single peep. The other Heavenly Officials, on one hand pretended that they weren’t listening, while on the other hand they crazily waited for someone to continue talking.
When it came to these two, it was relatively awkward. After so many years, many rumors had been passed on, so everyone already understood almost everything. In those days when Xie Lian had been the precious Xian Le Crown Prince, he cultivated in Huang Ji Temple. That Huang Ji Temple was the Xian Le country’s Imperial Taoist Temple. Their selection standards for disciples were extremely strict. Mu Qing came from a poor background, and his father was a sinner who had been beheaded. A person like that simply did not have the qualifications to enter the Huang Ji Temple as a disciple. As a result, he had no other choice but to become someone who did odd jobs. In the temple, he was mostly in charge of sweeping the floor for His Highness the Crown Prince, or delivering tea and water to him. But Xie Lian saw he was assiduous, and thus he asked the Taoist Ministers to make an exception and receive him as a disciple. His Royal Highness the Crown Prince’s words carried great weight. Only then was Mu Qing able to enter the temple to cultivate because of the Crown Prince’s will. After Xie Lian ascended, he appointed him as his general and took Mu Qing along with him to the Immortal City.
However, when the Xian Le nation was wiped out and Xie Lian was demoted to descend into the mortal realm, Mu Qing did not follow him. Not only did he not follow Xie Lian, but Mu Qing didn’t even say a single word in defence for him. The Crown Prince was gone anyway, so he was free. He found a blessed place and began to painstakingly cultivate like crazy. Not many years later, he withstood the Heavenly Tribulations and ascended himself.
Back then, one was in the heavens while another was on the ground. Now, there was still one in the heavens and one on the ground, it was just that the two people’s circumstances were thoroughly reversed.
At the other end, Ling Wen said, “He’s really angry.”
Xie Lian replied, “I guessed that too.”
Ling Wen responded, “I’ll go say some other things. Quickly take the opportunity to leave.”
Xie Lian said, “There’s no need. If we pretend nothing happened then everything would be fine.”
Ling Wen asked, “No need? Just looking at you guys make me feel awkward.”
Xie Lian replied, “I’m still okay ah!”
For Xie Lian, any situation was okay as long as he didn’t die. He didn’t have much, but he could definitely still lose a lot of face. He had already done plenty of things that were many times more awkward than this; so he really felt okay in his heart. Who would have thought he shouldn’t have said that so early; Xie Lian had just said the words ‘still okay’ when he heard a voice roar, “Who the f*ck dismantled my golden palace?! Come out!”
This one roar made the Gods listening within the spirit communication array feel as if their scalps were going to explode.
Though their stomachs were already flipping, everyone still held their breaths as they listened with rapt attention. They didn’t make a single peep as they waited to see how Xie Lian would respond to the loud cursing. But nobody expected that instead of something exciting—they would hear something even more thrilling. Xie Lian hadn’t even started talking before Mu Qing spoke first.
Mu Qing laughed twice. “Haha.”
The person who came coldly said, “You were the one who tore it down? Alright, wait for it.”
Mu Qing faintly replied, “I did not say it was me. Don’t randomly spray blood at people.”
The other person asked, “Then why are you laughing? Are you mentally ill?”
Mu Qing answered, “It isn’t like that. What you’ve just said was funny, that’s all. The person who destroyed your golden palace is currently in the spirit communication array, you can go and ask him yourself.”
With things evolving to this degree, no matter what, Xie Lian felt too embarrassed to escape now.
He coughed dryly before saying, “It was me. I’m sorry.”
The moment he spoke, the person who came later also became silent.
By his ear, Ling Wen again transmitted a message. “Your Royal Highness, that is Nan Yang.”
Xie Lian responded, “This time, I recognized him. However, I think he hasn’t recognized me.”
Ling Wen replied, “No. It’s just, he spends most of his time in the mortal realm and less time in the Immortal City. Thus, he merely didn’t know you had ascended again.”
Nan Yang ZhenJun was the martial god who oversaw the Southeast. He was popular and had nearly eight thousand temples, receiving the love and respect from the common people.
In addition, his personal name was Feng Xin. Eight hundred years ago, he was the first general of the Xian Le Crown Prince’s Palace Hall.
Feng Xin was a devoted and loyal person. He was Xie Lian’s Imperial bodyguard ever since the other had been fourteen years old. Feng Xin grew up with the Crown Prince, entered the Heavens with him, was demoted with him, and was banished with him. Unfortunately, he was unable to endure those eight hundred years with Xie Lian. In the end, they separated on bad terms and parted ways, never to see each other again.
1. ZhenJun is a title. Zhen means ‘genuine’ while Jun means Lord. Later, one character will also have the title ZhenJun while another will just be called Jun. ↩