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Never in Bai Xiaochun's wildest dreams could he have imagined that he would run into this freakish Heavenly Marquis Liu again…. After all, the man had left a deep impression on him back in their original encounter.
Bai Xiaochun would never forget that list of 100 crimes. He could still visualize the man's impassioned speech to the Grand Heavenmaster, and how, after the tables had been turned, he had ended up fleeing to the Great Wall
Much later… the Great Wall fell, and Bai Xiaochun had stopped thinking about the matter, only to have him show up here and proclaim he had a list of 300 crimes….
"Back when the Grand Heavenmaster sent me away from Arch-Emperor City, I was never able to track this guy down. What kind of luck does he have on his side? Fine, he survived the destruction of the Great Wall, and even the entire world. But how did he end up doing even better than Big Fatty Zhang, and becoming an important government official!?!?
"And also… he's lost a lot of weight. His complexion is good, and he even looks younger. He looks even more dignified and imposing than he did in the past, handsomer even…." Bai Xiaochun couldn't help but feel a bit jealous of this Heavenly Marquis Liu. Not only was the man very lucky, he was clearly living a great life here in Saint-Emperor City….
When Heavenly Marquis Liu noticed the expression on Bai Xiaochun's face, and saw all of the other important people in the palace hall looking at him with expressions of praise, his heart swelled with pride. Just as he was preparing to launch into all 300 of the crimes, Bai Xiaochun swished his sleeve, causing Gongsun Wan'er and the other demigods he had captured to suddenly appear in front of him.
"Saint-Emperor, this is the gift I prepared for you." Aware that he couldn't out-talk the glib Heavenly Marquis Liu, he decided to simply jump straight ahead to the main point.
As soon as Gongsun Wan'er appeared, thousands of eyes came to focus on her, especially those in the front of the crowd, who were the other celestials of similar rank to Gu Tianjun.
Even the Saint-Emperor was so interested in Gongsun Wan'er that he forgot all about Heavenly Marquis Liu.
Seeing what had happened, Heavenly Marquis Liu rubbed his nose awkwardly and then melted back into the crowd.
"Fine, you've slipped through my fingers again, Bai Xiaochun. Well done. But sooner or later I'll list out all 1,000 of the crimes I have prepared!"
Gongsun Wan'er looked around calmly at the crowd, and then gave a curtseying bow to the Saint-Emperor. However, she didn't say anything. As a celestial from the Vile-Emperor Dynasty, she would show respect for other powerful and important people, but that was it. She was confident that she would not be harmed in the Saint-Emperor Dynasty.
In contrast, looks of despair could be seen on the faces of the trembling demigods. The pressure from the celestials and the Saint-Emperor left them feeling like they might collapse.
A moment passed, and then the Saint-Emperor began to laugh loudly. He rose from his throne, a look of excitement on his face. After all, this was the most impressive gift anyone had offered to him in the history of the Saint-Emperor Dynasty!
He wouldn't kill Gongsun Wan'er, but considering that she was a celestial, he would be able to trade her for significant land concessions. Considering that there were certain prefectures which were the source of much friction between the two dynasties, this was a great opportunity.
Best of all, it wouldn't violate any of his agreements with the Vile-Emperor. After all, this gift had been sent to him, not sought out. Even if the Vile-Emperor wanted to seek revenge, he couldn't blame the Saint-Emperor for any of it.
"Good. Great. Excellent!" Laughing heartily, the Saint-Emperor looked over at Bai Xiaochun and the Giant Ghost King at the other end of the square.
"Giant Ghost, step forward to hear my decree!"
Eyes sparkling, the Giant Ghost King stepped forward, and then clasped hands to the Saint-Emperor.
"Henceforth, Giant Ghost shall be the preceptor of Godsifter Prefecture, and shall be given control of the Joss Flame of all the living beings there!"
In the Eternal Immortal Domains, a prefecture was roughly the same size as the entire Heavenspan Realm. As the preceptor of a Godsifter Prefecture, the Giant Ghost King's words would be law!
Such a reward was very fitting for someone of the Giant Ghost King's status, and he was very pleased with it. In fact, the main thing he had hoped to acquire in this venture was a proper location to begin harboring people from the Heavenspan Realm.
Clasping hands, the Giant Ghost King bowed excitedly.
"Thank you, Saint-Emperor!" When he rose from his bow, he somehow seemed different from before. As of this moment, he now had a foundation in the Eternal Lands. He was no longer a roving rogue cultivator, and would no longer be in a constant state of deadly crisis. It was exactly as he had discussed at the outset with Bai Xiaochun!
Bai Xiaochun was also very excited. When he saw that the Giant Ghost King had been given an entire prefecture, he couldn't help but wonder what his own reward would be, considering the greater nature of his role in the events.
With that, the Saint-Emperor looked at Bai Xiaochun, eyes flickering slightly as he said, "Bai Xiaochun, hear my decree!"
Bai Xiaochun put an extremely respectful expression onto his face. He knew when to bow his head at the proper time, and this was one of them. It was no loss of face to do so when reaching one's goal.
"Bai Xiaochun has performed a great service. He is someone of extremely high standing from the Heavenspan Realm, a person of such renown and prestige that none can compare to him!
"Henceforth, Bai Xiaochun shall be conferred with the title… Duke Heavenspan!
"In the Saint-Emperor Dynasty, only celestials may claim the title of king. Under the kings are the dukes. Therefore, Duke Heavenspan shall be the leader of many people, second only to a king!
"Bequeath him with a blessed land within Saint-Emperor City, a single dragonfish from the celestial pond, a ducal robe, and a seven-colored, jeweled belt!" As the Saint-Emperor's words echoed out, very serious expressions could be seen on the faces of the surrounding aristocracy.
It was a very impressive reward. Not only was Bai Xiaochun being named Duke Heavenspan, he was also being given a blessed land, as well as a dragonfish. The ducal robe was a magical item, and the seven-colored belt would ensure that he didn't feel any pressure from the spirit automaton that controlled the imperial palace.
All of it seemed very impressive, and yet in the end… it was an empty reward!
The truth was that Bai Xiaochun really was in a very unique position. The Saint-Emperor had seen fit to give the Giant Ghost King an entire prefecture, but that wasn't a possibility with Bai Xiaochun. The Saint-Emperor didn't want to give the people of Heavenspan an actual location to build a power base!
His goal was to absorb the Heavenspan cultivators into the Saint-Emperor Dynasty. Obviously, it wouldn't make sense to give Bai Xiaochun, the Arch-Ancestor, any substantial level of power!
He wanted Bai Xiaochun to stay in Saint-Emperor City and not cause any trouble. At best, he could be a figurehead. Later on, after all of the people of Heavenspan had been successfully absorbed into the Saint-Emperor Dynasty, Bai Xiaochun's usefulness would end, and he could be disposed of if necessary.
The truth was that, even if Bai Xiaochun hadn't brought his blood tribute, his reward would have been the same. Although the Saint-Emperor was pleased that Ghostmother had been brought to him, inside he was really just sighing in regret.
After all, everyone would be paying close attention to what happened as a result, including the officials in his own dynasty, as well as people from the Vile-Emperor Dynasty. Considering the enormous value of the gift, the Saint-Emperor had to offer some sort of reward. And that was why he had given a prefecture and preceptorship to the Giant Ghost King.
Normally speaking, he would never have given the people of Heavenspan even the slightest chance to do things on their own.
"I'll just wait until the time is right and come up with an excuse to strip this Giant Ghost of his title." Although the Saint-Emperor was chuckling coldly in his heart, his gaze when he looked at Bai Xiaochun was one of deep warmth.
"This is your first time in Saint-Emperor City, Duke Heavenspan, I'm sure it will take you a bit of time to settle in. You don't need to worry for a moment about the Heavenspan Realm or your people. I'll take care of everything!
"Surely you're tired from all the travel, Duke Heavenspan, so please feel free to go take a rest. From now on, you can focus peacefully on your cultivation. I'm sure you'll achieve a breakthrough soon. Once you're a celestial, I'll be more than happy to give you the title of king!"
As the Saint-Emperor spoke, cold gleams could be seen in the somber faces of the crowd. By this point, even Bai Xiaochun could tell that the reward he was being given was mostly a sham.
Of course, he and the Giant Ghost King had conferred with each other along the way, and had guessed that something like this might happen. And in the end, despite their faint hope, it turned out that the Saint-Emperor's plans for them weren't too different than the Vile-Emperor's.
He just went about things differently.
"I bet that without the blood tribute, though, the Giant Ghost King would not have been given a prefecture!" As of now, Bai Xiaochun was absolutely convinced these two emperors were weasels from the same nest.
"One is vicious, the other is a hypocrite…." he thought, smiling faintly. Although he was a bit disappointed, he wasn't too surprised. After all, there was one thing the Saint-Emperor had said that was absolutely correct.
"I'm definitely going to achieve a cultivation breakthrough soon!"
He clasped hands and bowed to the Saint-Emperor, and was just about to say his farewells to the Giant Ghost King, when all of a sudden, Heavenly Marquis Liu shouted, "Your Majesty the Saint-Emperor, you absolutely must not allow Bai Xiaochun to remain within Saint-Emperor City. It will put us all in grave danger!"