Countless eyes fell onto Yu Sheng in an instant.
The forum stage was incredibly enormous. It was naturally eye-catching as Yu Sheng was the only one out of all nine groups to walk out. Even those from the sacred grounds of the nine states went to look at him.
The saints from Xihua Sacred Mountain of Eastern State also looked at Yu Sheng. One of them said, "What is the matter?"
"The Barren State was invited to participate in the Nine State Forum and the Palace Lord of our sacred ground himself has attended the event personally as to show his respect. As Xihua Sacred Mountain had extended an invitation to the Barren State, it should be natural to afford the Barren State a certain measure of respect. The corner at the west was reserved for servants. I feel ashamed as a student of the Holy Zhi Palace to see our Palace Lord treated in such a way. If all the elders and seniors present feel that the Barren State is weak enough to be beneath being treated as equals, I am willing to withdraw from the event." Yu Sheng spoke eloquently, and his voice reached to all areas where the event was held. He held the Nine State Forum Token before him with both his hands extended, as to demonstrate that he meant what he said.
The grandstands became eerily quiet. Yu Sheng's voice was neither aloof nor subservient. The insult to the Holy Zhi Palace was akin to one directed at him as a student of the sacred ground, and he intended to withdraw from the Nine State Forum. No one expected to see such a spectacular scene right before the Nine State Forum even began.
Yu Sheng's words were proper and courteous, said without explicit disrespect nor to chastise Xihua Sacred Mountain. It was an undeniable fact that the Barren State was weak. The west corner was reserved for servants and it was a fact that the Holy Zhi Palace was disrespected. He had no right to ask for anything, but no one was able to say anything about him feeling insulted and wanting to quit the event.
There were even some elders and seniors who found his actions impressive. That stout young man has an exceptional bearing and some guts indeed.
There was an old saying that went, "when a monarch is put to shame, the ministers die for it." While the relationship between him and the Palace Lord of the Holy Zhi Palace was not that between a monarch and a minister, he was nonetheless a student of the Holy Zhi Palace. His actions, while rather feeble and futile, were a show of admirable integrity.
The people from the Holy Zhi Palace and Ye Futian all went to look at Yu Sheng. At that moment, Ye Futian felt that he did not know Yu Sheng well enough. He had been accustomed to having Yu Sheng, who was by his side all the time, around, yet the Yu Sheng he saw before him was not the same Yu Sheng. He sat and watched everything unfolding in silence, no longer asking Yu Sheng to back away. Yu Sheng was probably right. Despite the fact that the Barren State was weak, they should have made their stance known regardless.
The people from the sacred grounds looked in the direction of Xihua Sacred Mountain, wanting to see how they, as the host, would deal with that matter at hand.
While Yu Sheng was only one of the students who participated in the Nine State Forum and was entirely negligible, so much so that it would not have mattered if he quit the event, something like that had happened right at the beginning of the Nine State Forum. It would have been entirely proper, principally-speaking, if they were to let Yu Sheng quit the event. However, the people of the other states would have then doubted Xihua Sacred Mountain's competence, losing their bearing before the event even started.
Yu Sheng's action of walking out and speaking his mind was troubling for Xihua Sacred Mountain. Such words were not something seniors, elders, or the Palace Lord himself could have said, as that would have been akin to inviting humiliation. Yet, there was hardly anything wrong for a student of the Holy Zhi Palace to come out and say such words.
The students of Xihua Sacred Mountain looked at Yu Sheng with rather malicious eyes. The three saints looked at Yu Sheng as well. The saint who was sitting at the left was somewhat younger, sporting a light complexion and a bearing like none other. His clothes were free from any dirt and dust. When he went to look at Yu Sheng, an extremely heavy pressure fell onto Yu Sheng. He was the youngest of the saints and had demonstrated himself as the most outstanding genius in all of the Eastern State in the previous Battle of Saints. He had now proven his worth as a saint and was known as the Rain Saint.
"The Barren State has been absent in the Nine State Forum for many years. As such, Xihua Sacred Mountain had not taken Barren State's attendance into consideration during the preparation stages for holding the event. We later heard that the Palace Lord of the Holy Zhi Palace of the Barren State visited the Eastern State, and as such, I had someone extend an invitation to the Palace Lord, as to make the event of Nine State Forum whole again, per its namesake.
"The forum stage was one that had been planned before that and the seats had already been assigned. We added a corner in the west hastily after having to take the Barren State's attendance into consideration. But of course, your words claiming that Xihua Sacred Mountain has not afforded ample respect to the sacred ground of the Barren State are something that I cannot deny."
The Rain Saint did not stop. He added, "There has not been a saint emerge from the Barren State for many years, and as such, the Barren State had not been invited to attend the Nine State Forum for many years. Would you consider this a gesture of respect to the Barren State instead? We at Xihua Sacred Mountain invited the Barren State to participate in the event after many years. As a student of the sacred ground of the Barren State, if you intend to earn respect for the sacred ground of the Barren State, you should let everyone from all other states see for themselves if the sacred ground of the Barren State has what it takes to earn such respect."
"Bravo." many looked at the Rain Saint. The air of pride around the proud genius, who had earned the admiration of countless in the Eastern State and was titled as a saint, washed all over them. Furthermore, he returned the initiative to the hands of the hosts in the case, turning the tables of the argument with words alone.
He admitted freely to indeed not having afforded Barren State ample respect. However, it was not just something that Xihua Sacred Mountain had been doing. For the many years the Nine State Forum had been held, there was hardly ever any respect for the Barren State.
Xihua Sacred Mountain retaliated with one such forceful attitude.
Yu Sheng stared at the saint and wanted to say something before hearing Ye Futian say behind him, "You are right indeed, senior."
Yu Sheng turned around and saw Ye Futian on the grandstand, who then continued, "There hasn't been a saint in the Barren State for many years. As such, the Barren State has no right to demand respect. I'm the Palace Lord of the Holy Zhi Palace and I know where we stand. If it hadn't been for Xihua Sacred Mountain's invitation, we of the Holy Zhi Palace wouldn't have attended the Nine State Forum."
Many went to look at Ye Futian. Is the Palace Lord of the Holy Zhi Palace someone so spineless?
The students of Xihua Sacred Mountain were snickering coldly at the forum stage. People of the Barren State doubting Xihua Sacred Mountain? You people have really outdone yourselves.
The Rain Saint, however, looked at Ye Futian calmly. He had heard that the newly appointed Palace Lord of the Holy Zhi Palace had fought for the right to the lineage of the Chess Saint with Liu Zong, a student of Xihua Sacred Mountain. They both broke the Celestial Dragon Chess Game, and Liu Zong was the Chess Saint's eventual choice. Regardless, being able to accomplish what Liu Zong had done was in itself, something to be proud of on the young Palace Lord's part.
"Not only do we not have a saint among us in the Barren State, but our students of later generations also do not have guidance from saints to further their training. As such, few of us came and it was quite a shame. That was also the main objective behind my participation in the Nine State Forum, so as to allow the younger generations of the Barren State to see for themselves how capable those from other states are," Ye Futian yapped away with an incredibly humble attitude, talking as if those from the Barren State was truly cheaper than dirt. Even those around Ye Futian found his actions startling.
That really doesn't quite seem like Ye Futian.
Kong Yao, Qin Zhong, and the others from Zhisheng Cliffs stared at Ye Futian as well. They were acquainted with Ye Futian and they all knew that he was anything but humble back in the Barren State. He behaved nothing like that when he fought Qin Zhong and brought people into the Holy Zhi Palace.
"To be conscious of shame is to be close to fortitude. It's a good thing that you understand that," the saint sitting in the middle of the three said. The person who spoke was none other than the Head Saint of Xihua Sacred Mountain—Saint Xihua.
"To be conscious of shame is near to fortitude. Wise words to take to heart, elder." Ye Futian nodded and turned his eyes at Yu Sheng, saying, "Yu Sheng, I brought you here to participate in the Nine State Forum held at Xihua Sacred Mountain to have you open your eyes to the world. There are so many legendary figures here in Xihua Sacred Mountain who are of supreme talents, let alone those from other states. If you see any of them, you should ask them for guidance and reflect on yourself humbly instead of behaving in such an insolent manner."
Yu Sheng was completely dumbfounded. His bronze, bell-like eyes blinked as he looked at Ye Futian. Just why do those words sound so fake and pretentious?
Huang Jiuge, who was sitting right behind Ye Futian, was thoroughly exasperated, looking at Ye Futian before him, feeling rather speechless.
Yu Sheng stood up and made his dissatisfaction known when Xihua Sacred Mountain went disrespecting the sacred ground of the Barren State. Ye Futian went in the opposite direction instead. The others went about disrespecting them and Ye Futian went agreeing with the other party instead, talking as if their side was truly cheaper than dirt, then went on to make Xihua Sacred Mountain holy and mighty.
This is just…indescribably shameless! Huang Jiuge naturally knew what Ye Futian was trying to pull, yet people from the other states were unable to fathom all that. The spectators looked at Ye Futian, feeling rather puzzled, thinking that the Palace Lord of the Holy Zhi Palace of the Barren State did know where they stood and knew how to make themselves look weak. While such actions seemed rather spineless, they did know how to keep their thoughts to themselves.
The Barren State, as they were now, truly had no right to argue with Xihua Sacred Mountain.
"Indeed," Yu Sheng said. The others then turned their eyes to Yu Sheng. So you're giving up now?
"What are you still standing there for?" Ye Futian asked. Yu Sheng glared at Ye Futian with rather irksome eyes, but he did as he was told. He knew from Ye Futian's words what the best course of action for him to prove himself, to reclaim the lost respect and dignity for Ye Futian, and for the Barren State as a whole was.
Ye Futian turned his eyes to the east corner where the people of Xihua Sacred Mountain were after Yu Sheng returned, saying, "The insolence demonstrated by the student of the Holy Zhi Palace is my fault as the Palace Lord. The elders here have taught us that if we are to gain respect, we need to prove ourselves to all from the other states if we deserve such respect. Few truer words have been said. If one does not have the power to win such respect, one does not have the right to stand out and make demands. As such, I have decided that if no one from the Barren State is capable of making it to the top ten of the Nine State Forum, the Holy Zhi Palace will present a ritual implement of the saints to one from Xihua Sacred Mountain with the highest rank in the Nine State Forum. This will be my apology for the insolence demonstrated today, as to make the incident a lesson to myself as well as to encourage students of the Barren State to work harder in their training."
Everyone was dumbfounded hearing those words. Isn't the Holy Zhi Palace of the Barren State the one to have the least number of holy items? Yet this guy is offering to give one out as an apology to the one from Xihua Sacred Mountain with the highest rank in the Nine State Forum this time?
As for the top ten, nobody even considered the possibility. The event is called Nine State Forum, yet just how many sacred grounds are there from all over the nine states? The ones from Barren State bagging a place in the top ten? That is utterly ridiculous.
Or rather, as Ye Futian put it himself, he is willing to pay such a price to remember the insult he suffered today? So as to encourage the students of the Barren State to move forward?
The saints of Xihua Sacred Mountain looked at Ye Futian. The young man was actually humble enough to present a holy item as a token of his apology, and that gesture made them feel rather awkward about the whole thing. They did not expect that the Palace Lord of the Holy Zhi Palace of the Barren State had such an impressive bearing after all.
"In that case, if there are any students from the Barren State who are able to make it to the top ten, Xihua Sacred Mountain will present a holy item as a gesture of encouragement as well as a token of apology to where we have placed the Barren State," Saint Xihua said calmly. There was no way for them of Xihua Sacred Mountain to lose to the Holy Zhi Palace of the Barren State in any way. Furthermore, he saw the words he had spoken as impossible to be true, meaning that Ye Futian was destined to present a holy item to them. In that case, why not demonstrate how generous Xihua Sacred Mountain can be?
"I do not deserve such a generous token of goodwill and an apology from saints. I hope you will not rescind those words, elder," Ye Futian said, remaining humble throughout.
"It's fine. If the Barren State is indeed able to make it to the top ten, then you would have proven yourself to be deserving of such a gesture of respect," Saint Xihua said plainly.
"In that case, you have my thanks, elder." Ye Futian lowered his head. Beaming smiles were seen from his eyes!
In that case, thank you very, very much indeed!
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