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While Ye Futian had taken over as the Palace Lord, he was still young and many students of the Holy Zhi Palace thought him to be ill-suited for the role. But from the looks of things at the moment, it seemed that Ye Futian was already prepared for his role. He seemed to even have plans to build Barren State of the future.
There were only the lords and Ye Futian left in the Holy Sage Pavilion.
"Ever since I've taken over as Palace Lord, all who a.s.sisted have been my elders and my friends, so it's not surprising that Ximen Hanjiang had such thoughts. But now, I'm afraid there are quite a number of others who share his opinion." Ye Futian smiled bitterly as he shook his head. "Speaking of which, it seems that there are indeed forces who try to make the Holy Zhi Palace their own out there."
"We didn't go all the way to Book Mountain to call you out and offer our support to make you the Palace Lord for nothing. We know what is going on. If we were to split the place into factions, that would be a very wrong move. We just do what we must and make sure our conscience is clear." The Sword Demon said, "Now, the days where the Holy Zhi Palace can just focus on teaching the students and nothing else are definitely long over. With goals and objectives come agendas. No one is exempt from that rule, be it you, me, or the others."
Sage Douzhan, Daozang, and Wanxiang all nodded in agreement. Now that the Holy Zhi Palace had a clear goal to make the place great again, to foster saints and to compete with other inst.i.tutions of the Orthodoxy, as well as having an enemy in the form of Zhisheng Cliffs and others who were scheming to take the sacred grounds of Barren State apart, it was no longer sufficient to take only talent into consideration when fostering their candidates. Said candidates' stances, personalities, and temperaments needed to be taken into consideration as well.
"What about the matter I brought up before?" Ye Futian asked.
Sage Daozang took out several drawings and laid them out slowly, handing them over to Ye Futian. He said, "The Divine Path forces of all nine states, as well as the people ranked on the Sage and Saint Rankings, are all accounted for here."
Ye Futian nodded, took the drawings over and scanned them for a bit. The Barren State was the only one out of the nine states with no saints. All saints from the other eight states were ranked on the Sage and Saint Ranking.
There were 72 saints and 81 sages listed in this ranking. The 72 saints on the ranking were all the Saint Plane figures known in all nine states. There was, of course, the possibility of others who did not make themselves known and were not ranked. Such cases were also few and far between. That meant that there were fewer than 80 saints to be found all over the vast, seemingly boundless nine states.
As for the 81 sages on the ranking, the ones listed were the 81 who were most powerful, with actual capabilities being considered instead of talents and potentials.
Furthermore, out of the nine states, Zhisheng Cliffs was the only place with lineages of the saints in all of Yu State. As for the other states, there was more than one place like Zhisheng Cliffs in their respective territory.
"Where did Emperor Xia live?" Ye Futian asked out of curiosity all of a sudden.
The lords were dumbfounded as they looked at Ye Futian. It was apparent that none of them had expected for him to ask about Emperor Xia.
The Sword Demon shook his head with a smile and said, "You'll find out in the future." If the Divine Paths were something tangible, then Emperor Xia was the true figure of legends; a figure of Renhuang Plane, far above all in all of the nine states.
Ye Futian wore a peculiar expression but he did not pursue the matter further. He put the drawings away and asked, "Are the preparations of that thing I talked about before done?"
"The preparations are underway. The Holy Zhi Palace has dispatched mighty ones to gather intel about the other eight states, but the information is limited to the two states right beside the Barren State: Yu State and the Eastern State," Sage Daozang said.
Ye Futian nodded and replied, "I'll await further news then."
Everyone nodded and excused themselves.
The students of the Holy Zhi Palace were about to venture outside the Barren State. That had been the plan that Ye Futian had set right after he took over as Palace Lord. There was no way of growing more powerful and doing so quickly without venturing outside of one's familiar territory.
If one simply shut themselves off and trained only within the Holy Zhi Palace, disconnected from the outside world, there would have been no pressure or motivation to move forward.
The lords came to the Holy Sage Pavilion after several months and brought news worthy of attention.
"The Nine State Forum this year is to be held in the Eastern State," Sage Daozang said.
"Nine State Forum?" Ye Futian looked puzzled.
"We at the Holy Zhi Palace hold sparring sessions every year and battles once in three years to recruit students. The nine states interacted with each other often, and with the exception of Barren State being left out, the other eight often held events. The Nine State Forum is one tradition that has been maintained for years. The battles are fought between top-notch geniuses beneath the Sage Plane and serve to gauge the powers of each other. The event is held once every three years and the hosting right is rotated between sacred ground forces in the states involved. The host for this year is the Eastern State." Sage Daozang said, "But they wouldn't inform the Barren State about it."
Ye Futian nodded. He naturally understood that the Barren State was so marginalized that they deemed the Barren State unworthy of even partic.i.p.ating in the event. It was really awkward indeed.
"The battle of the saints is the battle between sages at their pinnacle, so this Nine State Forum is one fought between younger n.o.bles at their pinnacle then?" Ye Futian smiled and asked.
"Other than that, there is a saint in the Eastern State called the Chess Saint, known to be the number one chess player in all of the Nine States. He is the undisputed champion in the art of chess. At the same time, he is versed in the art of matrixes. He also possesses an incredibly rare Life Spirit: the Chess Spirit." Sage Daozang continued, "Now, the Chess Saint Villa has news that the Chess Saint is nearing his end and has invited geniuses from all corners of the world to gather there. It is said that he has carved his art of chess into his chessboard to be bestowed to an exceptional heir serving as his successor."
"A Saint Plane mighty one nearing his end? What has he been through?" Ye Futian asked with puzzled looks.
"That is unknown." Sage Daozang shook his head.
"A chessboard of the saints is a sacred relic. At the very least, it has powers at the level of a holy item," Ye Futian said. There was no doubt that the chessboard crafted and used by the Chess Saint was a sacred relic, but it was unknown if it truly had powers matching its supposed level. However, it would have definitely made one a superb being by getting their hands on that chessboard. But then again, he was not versed in the art of chess.
"We don't know for sure, but many people from top forces all over the Eastern State all began to head for the Chess Saint Villa. A sacred relic, whatever that may be, proves tempting enough after all." Sage Daozang said, "Furthermore, the offer of an item embodying a saint's way of training is tempting in itself, even if said way of training is an extremely rare one."
"So the Chess Saint has no students?" Ye Futian asked curiously. Why wouldn't a saint simply pa.s.s down his sacred relic to his student?
"He does. The Chess Saint has nine students and all of them possess superb talents. They are also incredibly famous." Sage Daozang said, "But according to some news, none of the nine students studying under the Chess Saint has a Chess Spirit. It is a very rare Life Spirit, after all. As such, the Chess Saint probably has other plans and wants someone else to inherit his mantle and art at chess."
Ye Futian nodded and said, "Well then, the Eastern State shall be our first stop in our journey to all nine states." He had the lords look into matters regarding the other eight states a year ago before he entered the Sage hall to train, making preparations to leave the Barren State on a pilgrimage throughout all nine states.
Having broken into Sage Plane without much trouble himself, everyone around him was able to progress considerably, and the Barren State being largely at peace at the moment, he deemed it to be time to venture outside.
Since there is something going in the Eastern State, then that shall be our first destination in our pilgrimage journey.
"Noted, we'll get things ready," Sage Daozang said. Ye Futian was now the Palace Lord of the entire Holy Zhi Palace, and it was only natural that he had mighty ones serving as his escorts.
Ye Futian and his party departed the very next day in a rather unceremonious manner, but he had people from the Holy Zhi Palace seeing them off. It was especially so in the Holy Sage Pavilion, where Sage Douzhan, the Sword Demon, Sage Daozang, and many other mighty ones sent Ye Futian and his party off. Ye Futian, Palace Lord of the Holy Zhi Palace and a sage, was bringing a group of n.o.bles with him on his journey through the nine states. There was no telling what was waiting for him out there.
"There are nine years still. The journey will be a long one. Who knows what they will run into?" Sage Daozang said.
"We shall let time take its natural course. The only thing we can do now is to wait for the condor to rise with the wind, and a sword capable of shaking the nine states to emerge," The Sword Demon cast his gaze at the air and saw Ye Futian and his party off.
Ye Futain was the student with the most dazzling talent in the history of the Holy Zhi Palace as well as the youngest Palace Lord who began his career at the lowest plane level.
No one knew what the future held, but they were certain that so long as he remained alive, it was only a matter of time before he went to shake up all of the nine states.
"He has Wanxiang, the Sword Saint, and Yuan Hong going on the journey with him. There is no need for us to worry," Sage Douzhan said. With such a grand entourage of mighty ones by his side, no one would have been able to easily touch Ye Futian, unless the one they got on the bad side of was a saint.
But then again, Ye Futian and his party were not dumb people, and they would not try to offend any Saint Plane figures. Furthermore, even if unexpected events were to occur, his status as the Palace Lord of the Holy Zhi Palace would make saints think twice in order to avoid getting on the bad side of Emperor Xia.
The Eastern State was south of the Barren State, and they needed to tread through the southernmost regions to enter the Eastern State from the Barren State. The region was where the Ice Temple was. As the sacred ground located right beside Eastern State's border, the ones from the Ice Temple would make contact with the Eastern State every now and then.
Ye Futian visited the Ice Temple for a bit while on his way into the Eastern State, showing his grat.i.tude to the lord of the Ice Temple in person. Yun Shuisheng also happened to be home to check on things.
Yujing City, Eastern State, a month later.
The city was incredibly famous in the Eastern State. It was so famous because a saint had emerged from the city, and this saint was none other than the Chess Saint.
There were 72 known saints throughout all of the nine states, and any one of them was a figure standing at the very top. As a figure of legends, a saint was more than adequate to get a region famous.
The Barren State was one of the nine, and the people of the Barren State yearned for a saint to emerge. Such was the influence possessed by a saint.
A place with a saint in it would be extremely prosperous, and Yujing City was no exception.
Yang Xiao, the city lord of Yujing City, was a mighty one ranked on the Sage Ranking of the Sage and Saint Rankings, as well as the eldest student of the Chess Saint, possessing powers befitting of his status.
Yang Xiao's wife was also the number one beauty in Yujing City as well as the third student of the Chess Saint. The Chess Saint's second student was equally as famous and possessed incredible powers. All nine students of the Chess Saint were exceptional people, and not even one of them was average.
Saint Plane figures tended to check on the talents of their students before taking them in. Only people of exceptional talents would be allowed to study under the saints and tutored by them personally. There was no way such people could be anything but exceptional.
Yet, as of late, there were others who were incredibly exceptional arriving in Yujing City. Many hailed from all over the Eastern State and there were even some from other states. Many of those people were mighty ones renowned in their respective regions or extreme geniuses with superb talents.
Everyone in Yujing City knew why those people showed up.
A group of people was seen taking to the air above Yujing City at that moment. Those people bore exceptional might, and they were none other than Ye Futian and his party.
"We're here." A smile could be seen in Ye Futian's eyes. They had ventured through the Endless Regions in their journey and had arrived at the first stop outside of the Barren State.
Other than Sage Wanxiang, his Eldest Brother and Yuan Hong, Zhuge Mingyue, Gu Dongliu, Hua Jieyu, Ye Wuchen, Yu Sheng, and the others were also by Ye Futian's side.
The first batch of students who studied in the Sage Hall had all ventured outside the Barren State!