Emperor Tang and the others walked to the ceremony’s seats of honor under the reverence of everyone present, yet the silver-white carriage did not move. It stopped quietly outside the venue, but everyone was able to sense a thoroughly bone-chilling cold emanating from inside the carriage.
“Everyone, you may rise.” Emperor Tang’s face wore a slight smile. His mood had never been so relaxed.
“Thank you, Your Imperial Majesty.” Everyone rose.
“Dear Courtier Zhangtian, did the White Clothed Tanhua not come this time?” Emperor Tang asked Chen Zhangtian. His question immediately made everyone perk their ears.
Chen Zhangtian calmly answered: “My son is cultivating in the Northern Barbarian territories and has not returned. Your Servant hopes that Your Imperial Majesty can forgive this.”
“To be absent even from the Title Bestowal Ceremony?” Emperor Tang feigned displeasure. “Is the White Clothed Tanhua not too outrageous.”
“One loses their sense of time amidst cultivation. Perhaps my son has reached a bottleneck. When my son returns, he will definitely apologize to Your Imperial Majesty for his rudeness.” Chen Zhangtian’s response was actually quite proprietous. There was no sign at all of a father grieving the loss of his son.
His cheerfulness made everyone somewhat puzzled.
Could it be that Chen Mo was actually still alive?
But when his weapon had been seized, how could he still survive.
Everyone merely took this to mean that Chen Zhangtian had renounced Chen Mo, and they could not help but inwardly shake their heads.
Emperor Tang slightly nodded. “Fine. We will make arrangements later when he returns, however, We recently heard a rumor and wonder what Dear Courtier Zhangtian thinks about it?”
“Your Imperial Majesty, please speak.”
“The White Clothed Tanhua has offended Huan Wen and was already executed on the spot by Huan Wen.” Emperor Tang stared intently at Chen Zhangtian.
Having already learned from Chen Luan about the actual situation, Chen Zhangtian still was unperturbed, “That should be nothing more than gossip spread by vile characters. Your Imperial Majesty, Your Servant urges you to not listen to that. My son is loyal and devoted to the Great Chong Dynasty, how could he have offended Her Highness Huan Wen.”
“Yes, Fourth Brother even took the Nan Jiang that the Great Ancestor Emperor was unable to.” Chen Lin indignantly said. “This contribution is unprecedented.”
“You must not be discourteous.” Chen Zhangtian furrowed his brow.
Emperor Tang smiled: “Not at all, your esteemed son speaks very correctly. However, Her Highness Huan Wen is Our dynasty’s number one Star General, such that even We must comply with her. That would be for the best if he did not offend her. If he actually did offend Her Highness Huan Wen, even We could not protect him.”
Everyone was inwardly shocked. Emperor Tang’s words clearly implied that if Chen Mo offended Huan Wen, then not even being the White Clothed Tanhua or making a contribution as monumental as conquering Nan Jiang would save his life.
These words undoubtedly indicated that Chen Mo had already been killed by Chen Mo. Some people that originally had even held out some hope that Chen Mo did not die could not help but have their hopes dashed.
Chen Zhangtian’s expression was very rigid.
“Your Imperial Majesty is correct.”
“However, His Highness Chen Mo is Our dynasty’s preeminent young hero, after all. Regardless of whether he is dead or alive, there must be an account. Does Dear Courtier Zhangtian not wish to know?”
“Your Servant heeds Your Imperial Majesty’s arrangements.” Chen Zhangtian calmly answered.
“Today, We specifically invited Huan Wen to attend. As for the outcome of the ceremony, We are very curious. Did the White Clothed Tanhua actually dare to provoke Huan Wen’s ire.” Emperor Tang smiled insincerely.
Chang’an Mansion did not utter a word.
At this time, several dozen sword-lights descended into the venue in succession. These riding swords were none other than the Four Great Sword Sects’ people.
“The Four Great Sword Sects pay respects to Your Imperial Majesty.”
Other than the Eastern Flower Sword Sect, the remaining three sword sects’ masters each had Third Layer Greater Thunder Tribulation, Fate Realization Realm, cultivation. Just that pressure alone was intimidating.
“Why did Daoist Eastern Flower not come this time?” Emperor Tang asked.
“The Daoist is in secluded cultivation at a critical juncture. We implore your understanding, Your Imperial Majesty.” An ancestor of the Eastern Flower Sword Sect said.
“Since it is cultivation, We can understand.” Emperor Tang said then looked to the Northern Darkness Sword Sect’s delegation.
The Northern Darkness Sword Sect was dressed in a black uniform. Most important was their cold and arrogant appearance, particularly the girl who was proud and reserved like a lotus in the abyss standing next to Northern Darkness Blue Wave. “We heard that in the Four Sects Wiping Sword, the Northern Darkness Sword Sect seized victory. Your daughter even obtained a peerless divine weapon. We offer our congratulations first.”
“Your Imperial Majesty is too serious.” Northern Darkness Has Snow’s attitude was ice-cold as she responded. “This sword’s name is ‘Serene Snow Falling Ink.’ This Daughter came to Chang’an earlier originally to thank him.”
“Chang’an has such a formidable casting master?” Emperor Tang curiously asked.
“He has already passed away.” Northern Darkness Has Snow’s mood was very poor. She shut her eyes.1
Northern Darkness Blue Wave wrinkled his brow, feeling his daughter was honestly too disrespectful. “My daughter has been feeling unwell as of late, please forgive her for the offense, Your Imperial Majesty.”
Emperor Tang was very puzzled. Why were there so many apologies, this truly was strange. However, today was an important day. Tang Mingshi did not plan on bothering about this. After Lord Chang’an was disposed of, he would have to tidy up these unyielding Four Great Sword Sects in the future when he had the time.
After the exchange of pleasantries, the Four Great Sword Sects joined the banquet.
After the appropriate arrangements were ready, the ceremony formally began.
Emperor Tang first guided everyone to worship the spirit of the Great Ancestor, to pray for peace in the world, for the Great Ancestor’s protection, and so forth. After other various mundane ceremonial rites, Circle Hill was already illuminated with lanterns. Once the sacrificial offerings were done, the title bestowals began.
This was the highlight of the Title Bestowal Ceremony.
According to the customs of the past Title Bestowal Ceremonies, they followed in order from the imperial court’s Two Lords, Three Dukes, and Nine Marquis. Many noble clans would be appointed an opponent for a spar, a system with best two out of three. If one prevailed over their opponent, they could succeed their counterpart’s rank, but if they lost, they would drop a rank or even become a commoner family.
However, it was very obvious that Emperor Tang already had no interest in the battles of the other noble families.
“Rumor has it that Chang’an Mansion’s Highness Chen Mo was killed by Huan Wen. Huan Wen has attended today’s ceremony. Before conferring titles, Huan Wen wishes to ask someone a question.”
Everyone’s gazes were all focused on that seven star silver carriage.
The Vermilion Bird Imperial Guard opened the carriage door, and immediately, a young woman in white armor stepped out. When they saw her, each person in the venue felt stifled.
It was not because how gorgeous the girl was but rather her identity.
Star World’s strongest existences that stood at the peak. Everyone in the Great Chong Dynasty knew of the Seven Stars’ fame, but no one had truly observed Huan Wen’s actual face.
Huan Wen rose, loosing a silver light that descended upon the highest platform of the ceremony, looking down on everyone, including Emperor Tang.
All the people here were as insignificant as ants in Huan Wen’s eyes.
“We greet Her Highness Huan Wen.”
No one dared to be slow in their courtesies, and even Emperor Tang stood and bowed.
“This Highness has appeared today for this ceremony for one matter only.” Huan Wen spoke, each word full of arrogance. Her gaze aimed at Chang’an Mansion like a knife.
The girl shouted.
Human Sovereign Chen Zhangtian rose and walked several steps from his seat. Before everyone’s stares, he cupped his fist. “What are your orders, Your Highness Huan Wen?”
“You know your crimes!!!”2
Huan Wen coldly said.
Everyone’s hearts were in shock, and they could not help but observe a moment of silence. Huan Wen was about to move against Chen Zhangtian.
“Your Humble Servant wonders what his crimes are?” Chen Zhangtian’s attitude was neither overbearing nor servile, neither flustered nor slow.
The corner of Huan Wen’s lips curled. Her skin was as white as ice and snow, and the seven star beauty marks on her cheeks seemed to flicker with a derisive light. “Chen Mo certainly is your son?”
“He is Your Humble Servant’s fourth son.”
“Very good. He plotted against his superiors in the Northern Barbarian territories and wished harm upon This Highness, and he was executed by This Highness. That the son was not taught is the fault of the father. You are guilty of the crime of indulgence!”
With these words, everyone was astounded.
To fight against a Star General, Chen Mo’s guts were too great.
“If my son truly is guilty of that, then that would be an evil that death is insufficient punishment for. Your Servant is willing to accept punishment for not teaching his son.” Chen Zhangtian’s answer was a surprise to everyone. The magnificent Lord Chang’an actually apologized so quickly. Although Huan Wen had Yellow Court Realm and was beyond a Human Sovereign, to overthrow the influence of Chang’an Mansion would be a heavy blow to the Great Chong Dynasty.
They looked at Chang’an Mansion’s other people. Chen Luan and Chen Lin did not say a word.
“Strange, why is Chang’an Mansion so calm.” Jiang Yanyu was bewildered. Could it be that Chen Zhangtian was willing to be executed just to avoid drifting without purpose?3
But she was very aware of Huan Wen’s personality. The more patient and yielding a person was, the more scornful Huan Wen became. Not only would the outcome be unable to be saved, it would only be even more disastrous.
Could it be that they were in despair.
“This This Highness shall revoke your ‘Lord’ tank. Henceforth, Chang’an Mansion’s generations are commoners. In this life, they are not to set foot in Chang’an, violators shall be executed without pardon!”
“As for you, Chen Zhangtian…” Pausing, Huan Wen jeered: “Apologize for your crimes with death. This Highness confers death upon you!!”
Confer death upon you. Once these words were uttered, the entire atmosphere froze.
Towards a grand Human Sovereign of Chang’an Mansion, one of the dynasty’s Two Lords, she surprisingly issued a punishment the strictness of which was so rarely seen. Only a lofty Star General the likes of Huan Wen would dare do such a thing, would have the qualifications to do such a thing.
Chang’an Mansion’s side began to stir. To be stripped of the “Lord” rank was already very upsetting, but to now hear that Chen Zhangtian would be punished with death, everyone was somewhat unable to accept this.
But Huan Wen stood high up, and the earth was like her own yellow court. Deep-rooted reverence made Chang’an Mansion’s people dare to be angry, but they did not dare utter a word.
Huan Wen at this moment already demonstrated clearly that she wanted to eliminate Chen Zhangtian. As long as Chen Zhangtian died, Chang’an Mansion’s influence would naturally crumble away, and rats would abandon the sinking ship.
Chen Zhangtian was worthy of being called a Human Sovereign, for he faced Huan Wen’s oppression still without changing expressions. He bowed to Emperor Tang: “Is this Your Imperial Majesty’s decree?”
“You offended Huan Wen. We are supposed to order nine familial exterminations. Right now, only you need to die as penance for your crime. Please thank Huan Wen for her favor. We guarantee the safety of your other children.” Emperor Tang finally showed his own malevolent expression.
Chen Zhangtian gazed at everyone present. Of the Three Dukes and Nine Marquis, the Four Great Sword Sects, the other noble families, no one dares to stare directly into the Human Sovereign’s eyes. Each person had a very guilty conscience. They clearly knew this was senseless, yet they did not dare speak up for him.
What Emperor Tang said was completely right. Offending Huan Wen was indeed a felony punished with nine familial exterminations.
Earthly Attacking Star, who touted that “infamy was a kind of fame,” already lacked that pride and honor a Star General had.
“Chen Zhangtian, your teachings are without honor and have damaged This Highness’ important plans. Will you carry out the decision yourself, or will you have This Highness send you off.” The girl ruminated, a kind of spontaneous pleasure arising from holding the Human Sovereign’s fate in her hands.
Chen Zhangtian said: “The Chen Family has followed since the Great Ancestor Emperor’s campaigns through the world. We laid the foundations of the previous dynasty and helped establish meritorious military service. Never had we intentions to revolt. If Her Highness Huan Wen now feels that our Chang’an Mansion’s contributions shadow the imperial family, then I, Chen Zhangtian have only one thing to ask.”
“Your Highness said that my son wanted to hurt Your Highness. There must be evidence. In this world, all people know of your might, Huan Wen. Could it truly be that you did not seize an opportunity to get rid of my son because you felt his contributions too great, Huan Wen?”
Huan Wen sneered, “What qualifications does a mere cultivator have to injure This Highness. This Highness merely felt that man to be displeasing and killed him. Today, I feel you are also displeasing and conferred death upon you!”
“Fourth Brother was actually able to make an oh-so-great Star General fearful. This truly widens my horizons, I’m too impressed.” Chen Lin burst out laughing, his bright guffaws shocking everyone.
“Huan Wen, your contempt is not very impressive.” Chen Luan coldly said.
“It appears that the Chen Family will end today.” Huan Wen was unconcerned.
Chen Zhangtian laughed heartily.
“While Heaven has a wise ruler, the Chen Family will naturally assist and follow them to death. If an incapable ruler disrupts the country, then This Chen will not ignore this.”
“Chen Zhangtian, what did you say.” Emperor Tang was furious.
Huan Wen grinned: “Not bad, like a real man. What do you want to say.”
“IF you want This Humble Servant dead, then that will have to depend on whether or not Your Highness has the capabilities.” Chen Zhangtian’s enormous magic energy suddenly overturned Heaven and Earth.
“Very good, if you had actually killed yourself, This Highness would instead have been very disappointed. This Highness shall experience your Human Sovereign might.”
Huan Wen’s figure flickered, and she attacked.