Mighty ones from holy lands all over the Nine States arrived one after another, and leaders all took their seats above the steps, looking down from above and enabling them to see the guests from the Nine States very clearly.
Ye Futian caught sight of some familiar faces, such as Kong Yao and Qin Zhong from Zhisheng Cliffs, as well as many mighty ones from said holy land who participated in the battle outside the Holy Zhi Palace.
Kong Yao and Qin Zhong naturally saw Ye Futian as well. They took their seats and Kong Yao's eyes looked cold. Ye Futian was actually able to sit above with the saints. There was a time where he never bothered even looking at Ye Futian.
Qin Zhong felt rather curious as well; however, he held no enmity against Ye Futian. While he had once lost at Ye Futian's hands, the ordeal simply stimulated him to move forward. But then again, he quickly found another brutal truth—the harder he tried, the further the gap between him and Ye Futian became.
Qin Zhong had grown to become a mid-level sage, yet rumor had it Ye Futian was able to overpower four upper-level sage all on his own at the Nine State Platform stage. Furthermore, all four of them were top-notch geniuses from four different holy lands. He felt rather dejected. The harder he tried to catch up, the further away Ye Futian became.
Time was able to change everything.
Kong Yao and Qin Zhong were not alone in having such thoughts. The truth was, even the ones from the Barren State felt restless, seeing how Ye Futian was seated in such a privileged seat, surrounded by saints.
"Our little brother has grown to become someone of considerable status indeed." Zhuge Mingyue, who was among the crowd from the Barren State, smiled as she looked at Ye Futian. Time could really change a person's bearing. The young, rough kid back in the day had truly grown to look and feel like a Palace Lord.
"Our little brother is someone that our teacher was waiting for after all," Gu Dongliu added softly. He turned to look at Ye Futian whenever the students of the Cottage were mentioned. The Third Brother was quite a blind worshipper of their teacher and his respect was genuine.
The Sword Saint looked unfettered and simply sat down quietly. Only he knew that their little brother was more than just a person that their teacher had been waiting for. He still remembered the time when his teacher told the young boy that he would witness the creation of an era.
The Sword Saint came to wonder what said era would be like. Of course, all that was something that only he knew. He had to hide it even from his younger brothers and sisters in training.
"Well, he's good, I give him that much, but he really knows how to 'put on airs' nonetheless," Luo Fan mumbled, Gu Dongliu took a look at him, which prompted him to shut up right there and then. While he too had become a sage, he still deemed their Second Sister and Third Brother people that he would rather not tick off.
"Hey, fatso. You were once someone close to our little brother here, but how did the gap between you and him get so wide?" Luo Fan turned his attention to Yi Xiaoshi. Yi Xiaoshi seemed to be the only one he could bully.
Yi Xiaoshi took a look at Luo Fan and a somewhat condescending expression was seen on the fat guy's face. The looks Yi Xiaoshi gave Luo Fan made the latter feel rather pissed, but then he quickly recalled that the fat guy was on par with him level-wise. Fine, I'm the grown-up here and I shall not be petty with my juniors.
Ye Futian turned to eye the saints around him. From the positions and air emanating from each and every one of them, he was able to roughly deduce the identities of every saint seated around him.
The seats were divided into two sides, and he was sitting at the end of the right side. The chief seat at the left was left empty, and Ye Futian wondered who was that seat reserved for. He had looked into the rankings before and deduced that number one would not bother showing up, and number two would probably not show up either. Number three on the ranking was none other than Saint Xia, the celebrated master of the event.
As such, according to logic and convention, that seat was likely reserved for number four, which was Saint Li of the Nine State College. However, Saint Li was seated in the first seat to the left. As such, it was only within reason that it was a seat reserved for an extremely important figure, a figure whom Saint Xia held in greater regard than even Saint Li.
The figure sitting in the second seat to the left was incredibly exceptional, so much so that Ye Futian knew of his identity with just a single look. The figure was none other than Saint Ji, the lord of the Hall of Holy Light of Qi State, who was ranked fifth.
According to what he had studied, the Qi State was once the Qi Kingdom, which was ruled by a sovereign power, which in turn was what the Qi clan once was. The Jixia Holy Palace was established by said sovereign as well, which held the explicit importance of fostering geniuses of Qi State. Both forces had great histories behind them.
However, there was yet another extremely renowned figure in Qi State who went on to establish the Hall of Holy Light, adept in wielding the Rules of Light. Said figure had single-handedly brought the Hall of Holy Light to glory, becoming a supreme force in all of the Nine States.
Presently, the lord of the Hall of Holy Light was ranked fifth on the Sage and Saint Ranking. While there were few students in the Hall of Holy Light, being able to be ranked among the top five throughout the entire Nine States meant that he was someone very formidable.
Saint Ji seemed to have sensed Ye Futian's gaze and he turned around to look at Ye Futian, who, in an instant, felt as if a blinding light had punched through him, rendering him temporarily blind, with nothing but blinding light before his eyes.
He averted his gaze, and it took quite a while to regain his composure, but he quickly found that Saint Ji had become the one eyeing him instead. While the blinding light was no longer around, Saint Ji's eyes were still something one dared not look at directly.
It was probably the prestige of being ranked fifth on the Saint Rankings.
"You went about eyeing someone with no hesitation at all. Have you no shame?" Saint Ji's voice was very calm, devoid of any emotional fluctuations, yet those words rendered the place completely silent. The people seated below turned to look up at the seats taken by the saints above.
"It's Saint Ji." Many sported peculiar looks on their faces. Saint Ji was questioning Ye Futian.
"It's a rare opportunity for me to see so many saints from the Nine States gathered around today. As such, I was unable to help but stare. For that, I sincerely apologize," Ye Futian replied with a smile, behaving appropriately, neither aloof nor subservient. However, he was feeling rather displeased about the treatment he received. While Saint Ji was indeed number five on the saint rankings, Ye Futian deemed it ridiculous to need to avert his eyes given that there were so many sitting around him.
Everyone was sitting so close together that they would catch sight of someone just so long as they kept their head up. Are you saying that we all should just keep our heads down all the time?
"Saint Ji, do you have to be concerned with something so petty?" Saint Li said plainly, and it was only then that Saint Ji rescinded his sight and sat quietly as if nothing happened before. However, the atmosphere of the banquet became rather awkward and weird. What did Ye Futian do to offend Saint Ji so much that he needed to put Ye Futian in his place like that?
Saint Ji, who was ranked fifth on the Saint Rankings, snuffed out Ye Futian's bearing somewhat with just two lines. The people of the Hall of Holy Light watched the scene unfold without saying anything. Ye Futian was all the rage during the Nine State Forum back then. The Hall of Holy Light became their target of retaliation and things ended on a bad note for them. On the other hand, Ye Futian continued to become even more renowned, so much so that he became known to all in the Nine States.
With him sitting in the seats of saints now, he probably has forgotten that he is but a low-level sage.
Regardless of how exceptional his talents were and how he was able to sit at such seats despite his status, he was unable to do more than admire those sitting around him.
Saint Ji is indeed as the rumors say—unapproachable and very, very imposing indeed. That thought welled up in the minds of many. Even saints came to think so as well. However, the motive of his earlier actions remained ambiguous, as it was impossible to tell if he had something against Ye Futian from just those two lines.
Ye Futian did not pursue the matter after Saint Ji stopped, while a self-deprecating smile was seen at his lips.
What is talent before absolute power indeed? He did not say anything more, as he deemed doing otherwise to be pointless.
His name became known throughout the Nine States for quite some time. The war he was having against the Great Zhou Sacred Dynasty was such that even though he was sitting in a seat reserved for a saint, he remained gleaming with an unbelievable light about him. However, Saint Ji used little more than two lines, that probably did not mean much to him, to completely wipe the aura that he had been gathering about himself all along. Those two lines were the right amount. Anything more would have reflected badly on Saint Ji for losing composure and being petty with his junior.
"Saint Ji has an extremely aloof temperament and has been this way since young. No one could get near him and he has little to no friends. Furthermore, he has an unbelievable amount of confidence in the powers that he trains in and is very defensive with things, thinking that the way of the Hall of Holy Light's training is the most powerful there is." A voice was heard in Ye Futian's ear—the Moon Saint was talking to him telepathically.
"Have you offended him in any way?" the Moon Saint asked discreetly.
Ye Futian took a look at the Moon Saint and replied telepathically, "This is the first time we met. If you're talking about me offending him, I guess that would probably be the students of the Barren State fighting with the students of the Hall of Holy Light back in the Nine State Forum. But then again, a saint probably wouldn't mind something so petty to begin with."
The Moon Saint continued to talk to him telepathically, "Maybe Saint Ji wasn't concerned about winning or losing, but how the power of rules of the students of Hall of Holy Light were defeated by other powers of rules of the Barren State."
Ye Futian nodded slightly and dropped the subject. It was impossible for him to guess what was going through Saint Ji's mind after all. However, the Moon Saint had bothered taking the effort to talk to Ye Futian telepathically, so it seemed that the Moon Saint intended to pull Ye Futian to his side.
"Saint Xia is here." Subdued murmurs were heard at the moment. Everyone turned their eyes and saw Saint Xia walking in their direction. A surreal bearing emanated from him and many mighty ones from the Xia clan followed closely behind. However, there was a youth at Saint Xia's side who sported an unbelievably good-looking face, which looked like that of a man, yet the skin was so supple that it rivaled that of a woman.
"A woman?" Cultivators had keen eyes, especially when trained to a certain plane. In this case, it allowed them to tell that the youth was a woman, yet one who was dressed like a man from head to toe.
"Is that seat reserved for her?" many looked at the clean, flawless face and asked. That young woman was walking side-by-side with Saint Xia, which spoke volume of her status.
"A Nine State Supervising Inspector then?" Many were able to guess the identity of the woman. There were few who were able to walk next to Saint Xia, and if someone was deemed qualified to do so, it would have either been those other two saints who were of higher rank, or someone who was from Saint Xia's side.
It was apparent that she was not one of those two saints. As such, it seemed that it was none other than the Nine State Supervising Inspector.
The saints all got up one after another, cupping their hands and congratulating Saint Xia. It was his birthday banquet after all, and customary wishes were deemed necessary at times like that.
Saint Xia was smiling and cupping his hands at the others. "I have lived long enough to not bother with such customs. Please, just take your seats and relax." However, none sat and everyone gestured at him, waiting for him to take his seat.
"Please." He did not sit and had gestured at the youth beside him instead, which caused many to be taken aback deep down, guessing the background of the Supervising Inspector.
The youth did not return the pleasantries and simply took the chief seat at the left. Only then did Saint Xia take his seat. Everyone took their seats afterward and looked at Saint Xia.
"Today is my birthday, and it is my honor to have all of you here," Saint Xia smiled and said. It was the first time many who were sitting saw the figure who was ranked third on the Saint Rankings. They thought he would have been a solemn, imposing figure, but the Saint Xia who everyone saw was instead an amicable old man, who put many present at ease.
"The first reason why I've invited you all from all over the Nine States here today, is, first of all, to catch up with all my old friends, and then, to see what the younger generations of the Nine States are capable of.
"The second reason is that the war between the Great Zhou Sacred Dynasty and the Holy Zhi Palace has put a tremendous toll on both sides. I heard that both sides suffered immense casualties, so much so that even Douzhan, who just became a saint, as well as Zhou Huang and the others, faced life and death situations at the Nine State College." Saint Xia took a look at everyone and continued, "The life of a cultivator is an arduous one, and it is of great fortune that one is able to attain sainthood. Zhuang Huang, son of the sacred king, is also one who is ranked on the Sage Rankings. Furthermore, he is but a step away from attaining sainthood. There is simply no need for fight-to-the-death scenarios to play out."
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