A group of mighty figures arrived at the city lord's office of Qianye City. Shen Tianzhan received them personally. The ones who'd arrived all sported an overbearing aura and the fiery crimson robes of the Regional Palace. The one who took the lead was a top-notch figure at Holiness of Nirvana level.
"How may I be of service?" Shen Tianzhan asked, cupping his hands.
"We're here to look for City Lord Ye," the man in the lead answered.
"City Lord Ye is now training in isolation. I'm sure you all know about the recent battle. He needs some time alone." Shen Tianzhan then added, "If you don't mind, I'll be glad to relay the message."
"That will do." The messenger nodded slightly and continued, "The Regional Palace hereby extends its invitation to Ye Futian and Xia Qingyuan to join the Regional Palace for training. The invitees are welcome at the Crimson River any time."
Many in the city lord's office looked up at the ones who'd arrived and shuddered deep down. While they'd speculated that something like this would happen, it still nonetheless proved shocking when the time came.
The Regional Palace made yet another exception.
In the Crimson Dragon Realm, those who had missed the selection process at the Crimson River had not necessarily forgone their chance to join the Regional Palace just yet. If the ones intending to join the Regional Palace proved extraordinary enough, they still had a shot at it.
Both Ye Futian and Xia Qingyuan had earned the Regional Palace's approval. What they'd done back at the Peach Banquet had proved exceptional enough. There was little need to say anything about Ye Futian. As for Xia Qingyuan, she had also proven her talents by defeating Shu Zi. As such, it was not a strange thing for the Regional Palace to extend their invitation to her as well.
"Very well, I shall inform City Lord Ye." Shen Tianzhan nodded. Common people would have been extremely elated by such news. However, those who'd truly earned the right to enter the Regional Palace would never be so excitable. That was because they were people who stood above most others, prideful and confident.
As for Ye Futian, who was more than qualified to be ranked on the Regional King Rankings, the Regional Palace had made an exception by putting him on the rankings. Deeming him qualified to train in the Regional Palace was something normal enough.
Shen Tianzhan felt no surprise about any of that. Compared to what Ye Futian had done before, getting into Regional Palace hardly seemed significant at all. What put him at ease, however, was that the invitation from the Regional Palace was akin to a tag for protection... so long as Ye Futian agreed to train in the Regional Palace. That would mean that he was out of the Ninth Servant's reach.
While the Ninth Servant had scoffed at a cave master of the Regional Palace not long ago, showing how arrogant and abrasive he was, that was due only to his strength and backing. If one were to truly compare the strengths of their resources, there was no way Ancient Imperial City could compare with the Regional Palace. Furthermore, the Regional Palace was backed by the Crimson Dragon Emperor himself.
"Very well." Those from the Regional Palace nodded before departing into the sky. It seemed as if they had only been there to deliver the news.
As for Ye Futian's choice, that was something entirely up to him.
There were quite a few people who felt rather shocked by what had happened. Shen Tianzhan turned around, getting ready to tell Xia Qingyuan about it before letting both her and Ye Futian decide what to do about it.
News quickly spread from the city lord's office of Qianye City that Ye Futian had accepted the Regional Palace's invitation and was about to train there. The news seemed to calm down the tense atmosphere that had been building up all over the place. Everyone was wondering if this meant that the great battle would be avoided.
Ye Futian wanted to avoid confronting the Ninth Servant for the time being. Instead, he wanted to devote his time to training and enhancing his powers. However, when everyone realized that both Ye Futian and Xing Kai were about to train in the same place, the expression of many turned rather peculiar. They then wondered what would happen if they were to meet at the Regional Palace.
Many wondered if they would continue fighting each other.
Xing Kai was training in peace inside a palace within Ancient Imperial City. Dazzling light sparkled as the Heaven Punishing Fighting Will coursed all over him, emitting an imposing aura. However, Xing Kai's expression remained tense throughout the training, as if something was weighing on his shoulders.
That battle in Crimson Dragon City had dealt a heavy blow to him. He'd never expected needing the Ninth Servant to show up, just so to keep him alive. It was an insult like no other to him.
He heard footsteps approaching. Xing Kai opened his eyes to look at the Ninth Servant. His eyes no longer looked as pure and adamant as they had before. They looked tainted by some other thoughts.
The Ninth Servant looked at his eyes. He was able to tell Xing Kai's current state of mind just by looking at those eyes. Xing Kai seemed to have developed some inner demons due to dealing with Ye Futian.
"Regardless of what you have run into on your path in cultivation, you needed to deal with it on your own. You have met your match this time, and he might be more extraordinary than any whom you have met in the past. Until you can overcome that, you will forever live in his shadow," the Ninth Servant said.
"I believe you could make it."
Xing Kai remained silent.
"There was news not long ago that said that he has earned the approval of the Regional Palace and is about to enter the Regional Palace to train. The two of you will probably meet in the future," the Ninth Servant continued. Xing Kai's eyes turned cold within an instant.
So, Ye Futian was going to join the Regional Palace's ranks?
Xing Kai got up and walked outside. He walked over to the steps and cast his gaze far away.
"Are you feeling disappointed in me, teacher?" Xing Kai asked.
The Ninth Servant looked at his back and was silent.
"I'd like to hear the truth," Xing Kai added.
"I'm disappointed because I have too high of an expectation of you. You should know the extent of the hope I've placed on you, but such a day would have come sooner or later on your path in cultivation. As such, I do hope you'll first win against yourself, young master," the Ninth Servant said with a bow. It seemed as if his attitude had changed.
"I have to win against myself because I couldn't win against them, eh?" Xing Kai sighed. It was not something that he could simply let slide. He needed the Ninth Servant to be around just so that he could survive.
How could I face anyone else ever again?
How could I ever claim to be a descendant of Emperor Zhan again?
He was even more disappointed in himself.
"With your permission, I shall head to Qianye City right away. I will cut off their heads and bring them to the Ancient Imperial City. You will no longer have to be concerned about him if I were to do so," the Ninth Servant said while looking at Xing Kai's back.
Xing Kai did not doubt the Ninth Servant. If he truly wanted the older man to do so, he only would have needed to tell the Ninth Servant, and the older man would see to it for him. However, it seemed ridiculous to send the Ninth Servant to kill someone who had defeated him.
"Sir." A voice was heard from below the steps. Someone had arrived, asking for an audience.
"What is it?" the Ninth Servant turned around to look at the one who had spoken. His eyes were sharp as they shot through the space. He wondered what would have caused someone to interrupt him at such a moment.
That man extended both hands, holding a letter. It looked like an invitation of sorts. The Ninth Servant grabbed at the air. The letter then flew right into his hands.
The Ninth Servant opened up the letter to read its contents. While his expression looked as calm as it had always been, he shuddered somewhat deep down.
The Ninth Servant's eyes seemed to pierce through the space before him as he looked in the direction of Qianye City.
City Lord Ye Futian of Qianye City.
He really was something.
"What is that?" Xing Kai, who was at the Ninth Servant's side, saw his reaction.
The Ninth Servant looked at Xing Kai, but he did not hand the letter over. Xing Kai seemed to have sensed that something was amiss and extended his hand. The Ninth Servant only handed the letter over to him after that.
Xing Kai took a look at the letter. His eyes became extremely pointed within an instant. Powerful fighting will seemed to surge from him uncontrollably, bursting out furiously.
This was just insane.
That letter he'd sent to Ancient Imperial City was a challenge. A challenge to fight to the death right outside the Regional Palace, above the Crimson River. The Regional Palace would bear witness.
The two of them would no longer be meeting within the Regional Palace, as Ye Futian intended to fight Xing Kai to the death right above the Crimson River before entering the Regional Palace.
Only one of them would be able to enter the Regional Palace alive.
Ye Futian refused to coexist and train with him in the Regional Palace. One could imagine what was going on inside Xing Kai's mind when he read the letter. He'd lost to Ye Futian and Yu Sheng in Crimson Dragon City not long ago.
Now, Ye Futian had sent Xing Kai a challenge. He would be the only combatant fighting Xing Kai this time. Furthermore, the fight would be to the death and be witnessed by the Regional Palace. Only one of them would make it out alive.
This was unruliness and insolence of unprecedented levels. Xing Kai had never expected Ye Futian to dare to challenge him to a one-on-one fight to the death.
The Ninth Servant, who was at his side, was equally surprised. He thought Ye Futian would agree to train in the Regional Palace because he wanted to avoid clashing head-on with Ancient Imperial City.
However, he'd never expected such a challenge to be made before Ye Futian even agreed to train in the Regional Palace. Worse still, Xing Kai's Mindfulness of the Path had been damaged, and his state of mind was faltering.
There was no way he could shirk the battle after receiving such a letter. If he refused the challenge, his name—Xing Kai—would no longer be worthy of pride, but one filled with shame.
Xing Kai would never make it past his current state of mind. However, Xing Kai wondered what had made Ye Futian so insolent and so confident that he would emerge as the victor. Xing Kai wondering if Ye Futian had become a Saint of True Self.
"Are you going to accept the challenge?" the Ninth Servant asked.
Xing Kai looked at him. The Ninth Servant was almost able to ascertain Xing Kai's decision from the look in his eyes. Xing Kai had no choice whatsoever when it came to accepting the challenge. He had to fight.
"Excuse me for a bit," the Ninth Servant said. He finished talking and took one step away. His body soon disappeared into the air.
Towering pressure rained all over the city lord's office of Qianye City not long afterward. One figure after another took to the skies. All the Holiness of Nirvanas arrived midair and looked up. That pressure from above was very terrifying.
A will of great path pressed down as a huge face appeared in midair. It was none other than a conjuration of the Ninth Servant's will. Terrifying will pressed down in a frenzy, heading straight for the city lord's office.
A silver-haired figure took to the skies from within the city lord's office. Looking up at the face in the sky, he said, "Are you here to check on my plane out of concern?"
The Ninth Servant placed Mudras of God of War on both Xing brothers for protection. He would not have simply allowed Xing Kai to get into such a dangerous situation after receiving the challenge. If Ye Futian had indeed made it as a Saint of True Self, Xing Kai might have just signed his death warrant.
The Ninth Servant knew very well from that battle in Crimson Dragon City that if both men were to be of an equal plane and fight to the death, Xing Kai would definitely end up dead.
As such, he'd shown up personally to find out.
A raging will pressure continued to shroud the place. That huge face stared at Ye Futian, who was among the crowd below.
The Ninth Servant found that the young man was still at the Proving Holiness level. The Ninth Servant then wondered what had made the young man so confident that he would issue a challenge to fight Xing Kai one-on-one.
In that battle back in Crimson Dragon City, both Yu Sheng and the Halberd of Time and Space had only served as auxiliaries. If the two men fought one-on-one to the death, things would be very different.
Ye Futian truly needed to be able to win against Xing Kai. Otherwise, he would be the one who would end up dead.
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