With a resolute statement, there was no room for maneuver.

Lang Qianqiu spoke in a deep voice, “You admitted it, that’s good.”

It had been said before that there were countless celestial officials in the heavenly court with blood on their hands. However, to be honest, there were not many cases that escalated into such a situation due to these age-old blood debts.

The reasons behind this were twofold. Firstly, the blood on the hands of other celestial officials came from mortals, and none of them had an outstanding descendant like Lang Qianqiu who had ascended to become a celestial official and sought justice against the culprits. Secondly, after ascending, they could conceal or bury their shameful past, and it was rare for it to be brought to light. The situation had become embarrassingly messy.

Now that it had been brought to light, the most pressing concern was how to resolve it. Previously, General Pei had provided protection, but in the end, he couldn’t escape being banished to the mortal realm. Xie Lian, on the other hand, had no backing. Now, it all depended on whether Jun Wu still cherished the old feelings and had any intention to protect him.

However, the celestial officials couldn’t understand Jun Wu’s attitude towards Xie Lian. During Xie Lian’s first ascension, Jun Wu naturally favored him. But during the second ascension, they fought a battle, and it took Xie Lian several stabs to subdue Jun Wu. In this third ascension, however, they got along relatively peacefully, as if they had forgotten about their previous conflicts. It was truly puzzling. Thus, their ears perked up, waiting to hear how the higher-up would handle the situation.

Unexpectedly, before Jun Wu could speak, Xie Lian spoke first. He said, “I have an unconventional request.”

Jun Wu asked, “What is it?”

Xie Lian replied, “Please banish me to the mortal realm according to my celestial record.”

Upon hearing this, some celestial officials were surprised, but also slightly admiring. After all, no one wanted to be banished. Ascending was not easy. Climbing so high with great effort, only to fall down suddenly—it was frightening to think about. They wouldn’t dare to say directly to Jun Wu, “Please banish me,” like Xie Lian did. They simply couldn’t do it. But some celestial officials didn’t think much of it. After all, things had already escalated to this point, and retreating might be better than stubbornly denying it. Moreover, Xie Lian had already been banished twice, so being banished for the third time shouldn’t be a big deal for him. He should be accustomed to it by now.

However, Lang Qianqiu said, “You don’t need to banish yourself. Ascending is your own skill. I just want to have a decisive battle with you.”

Xie Lian said, “I don’t want to fight you.”

Lang Qianqiu replied, “Why not? You’ve fought me before. This battle, regardless of life or death, will put an end to everything!”

Xie Lian calmly said, “There is no reason. If we fight, you will undoubtedly die.”

His seemingly casual remark caused a slight gasp around him. Many non-War Gods among the celestial officials thought, “You’re just a raggedy god without any magical power. How dare you say to Lang Qianqiu, a renowned Eastern War God, that he will undoubtedly die if he fights you? That’s too arrogant.” It sounded as if Xie Lian was letting Lang Qianqiu off the hook by saying that he would be banished. It was just empty boasting. However, Lang Qianqiu didn’t think his words were exaggerated at all. He sincerely said, “I said, regardless of life or death! I don’t need you to let me off.”

But Xie Lian didn’t respond to him. Instead, he said to Jun Wu, “Please banish me to the mortal realm.”

Lang Qianqiu wanted to grab his response, but Shi Qingxuan quickly interjected, “Wait! I think there is room for doubt in this matter.”

Jun Wu said, “Wind Master, please explain.”

Shi Qingxuan said, “It seems that all the celestial officials believe that Xie Lian took on the name Fangxin out of revenge and bloodied the Royal Family of Yong’an. But if he wanted revenge, why did he spare Prince Taihua, who is a member of the Yong’an Royal Family? Logically speaking, someone seeking revenge would want to kill the prince the most.”

This point had crossed some people’s minds before, but they thought it wasn’t necessary to speak up. It was only after Wind Master brought it up that a few people nodded in agreement. Shi Qingxuan continued, “Although I haven’t known Xie Lian for long, I witnessed him courageously blocking a curved blade to save Prince Taihua’s life. Qianqiu,” he turned to Lang Qianqiu, “if you held a grudge against the Yong’an Royal Family, why would you have risked your life to protect him?”

Upon hearing the phrase “blocking a curved blade,” Feng Xin and Mu Qing’s expressions froze. Lang Qianqiu remained silent. When he heard a small voice mutter, “Maybe it’s because he feels guilty,” Shi Qingxuan quickly spoke up again, overshadowing it, “So! I think there is room for doubt in this matter!”

At this moment, Pei Ming sighed and said, “I envy him.”

Shi Qingxuan waved his dusting brush dismissively and said unhappily, “General Pei, just say what you want to say.”

Pei Ming stood with his sword in hand and smiled, “I said I envy him, and that’s exactly what I meant. I envy Prince Xianle for having Wind Master’s full support and speaking up for justice. Little Pei doesn’t have that privilege. When I said there is room for doubt, I was immediately refuted. How could I not be envious?”

Shi Qingxuan said, “General Pei, don’t confuse right and wrong. Can your situation be compared to his? I saw his wickedness with my own eyes, and I heard his confession with my own ears.”

2 / 2

Pei Ming said, “Isn’t it the same today? Prince Taihua witnessed his wicked deeds with his own eyes and heard Prince Xianle’s confession with his own ears. What’s the difference?”

Shi Qingxuan became furious and was about to argue with him, but Xie Lian grabbed his arm and said, “Wind Master, thank you for your concern, but it’s unnecessary.”

Shi Qingxuan couldn’t come up with a rebuttal to Pei Ming for a while and pointed at him, at a loss for words. At that moment, Jun Wu finally spoke. He calmly said, “Everyone, please calm down.”

His voice wasn’t particularly loud, but every celestial official in the Martial God Hall could hear it clearly and quickly stood up straight. Once the hall quieted down, Jun Wu said, “Taihua, you have always been impulsive in your actions. When faced with a situation, you cannot rush blindly. You must listen calmly and make a decision.”

Upon hearing this, Lang Qianqiu lowered his head and accepted the advice. Many celestial officials thought to themselves, “Oh no, it seems like he’s going to protect him!”

Sure enough, Jun Wu continued, “Since Xianle is not willing to disclose everything and his proposal for self-banishment is ineffective, he will be temporarily confined to Xianle Palace. I will personally interrogate him. Before that, Taihua should refrain from meeting Xianle.”

The inner thoughts of the celestial officials echoed with a resounding “Oh no, he’s really protecting him!”

Jun Wu had protected Xie Lian, a figure who had neither territory nor merits, and placated Lang Qianqiu. Lang Qianqiu, the Eastern War God, might become dissatisfied because of this, which would be a bad deal. But even so, he had to be protected—could it be that Xie Lian was highly regarded by Jun Wu?!

Would they have to be careful with their words in the future?

Moreover, everyone was quite curious about the “Xianle Palace.” When Xie Lian heard those three words, he was taken aback and thought, “I don’t have enough merits to establish a palace. The old Xianle Palace was demolished long ago. So where did this Xianle Palace come from?” But then he quickly understood. Jun Wu must have granted him a new palace, probably planning to officially assign it to him after returning from the Ghost Market. However, now it was being used for his confinement.

Being confined for interrogation was equivalent to a temporary ceasefire. Many celestial officials noticed a subtle hint and secretly decided not to mention the phrase “laughingstock of the Three Realms” in any public occasion. Shi Qingxuan breathed a sigh of relief, praised Jun Wu’s wisdom a few times, and prepared to go and ask Lang Qianqiu. However, Lang Qianqiu stared at Xie Lian and said, “What does the Emperor want to ask? You can interrogate me, but no matter the final outcome, I still want to have a battle with you!”

After saying that, he bowed to Jun Wu and left the hall. Jun Wu waved his hand, and a few Martial God officials gathered around to take Xie Lian away. As they passed by Shi Qingxuan, Xie Lian whispered, “Wind Master, thank you so much. If you really want to help me, there’s no need to speak up for me. Could I ask for two favors?”

Shi Qingxuan asked, “Tell me.”

Xie Lian said, “The young man I brought with me is in a side hall. Could you please take him to see the Emperor later? There’s no need to say much, the Emperor knows what’s going on.”

Shi Qingxuan said, “Alright. It’s a small matter. What’s the second favor?”

Xie Lian said, “If General Pei wants to come after me in half a month, I hope Wind Master can lend a hand.”

Shi Qingxuan clenched his fist and said, “That’s for sure. I won’t let Pei Ming succeed. Where is she?”

Xie Lian said, “I hid her in a pickle jar in the Puzhi Temple. If you have time, please take her out and give her a good scolding.”

“…”

After bidding farewell to the Wind Master, the two officials led Xie Lian to a palace with a red glass wall and respectfully said, “Prince Taihua, please.”

Xie Lian nodded and said, “Thank you for your trouble.”

He stepped forward and entered the palace, with the doors closing behind him. Xie Lian looked around and took a walk inside the palace, feeling that the place was quite nice.

Although it was named Xianle Palace, it had nothing in common with his previous Xianle Palace. There was no nostalgic feeling whatsoever. He sat in the center of the grand hall and calmly waited for Jun Wu to come for questioning.

During the chaos earlier, there was no time for contemplation, but now, in the quietness, doubts emerged in Xie Lian’s mind. As the Earth Master, Mingyi would not act as an undercover agent without reason. Was it because he had personal grievances with Huacheng, or was he acting on someone’s orders?

If he was acting on orders, it could only be Jun Wu’s orders. However, based on Xie Lian’s understanding of Jun Wu, he wasn’t the type to proactively send undercover agents into someone else’s territory. After all, the Heavenly Court had enough tasks to keep them busy. There must be another hidden motive.

As he pondered, an image of a crimson figure involuntarily appeared in Xie Lian’s mind.

The image in his mind was blurry, but the figure in red clothing was crystal clear. It stood motionless in the sea of fire, staring at him. Xie Lian covered his forehead and thought, “I wonder if Sanlang’s Joyful Alley has been burned down. If it really has, and I get demoted again, I don’t even know if I can afford to compensate…”. He sighed and thought again, “Even if I can’t afford it, I’ll still compensate him. It’s just a matter of whether it will take decades or hundreds of years.”

After sitting for a while, he reached into his pocket and took out something, spreading it out in his hand. In the palm of his hand were two dice, the ones he had brought from Joyful Alley. After looking at them for a while, Xie Lian clasped his hands together and shook the dice in his hand before throwing them to the ground. The dice rolled a few times and stopped.

As expected, Huacheng’s luck had run out. Xie Lian had hoped for a double six, but the result was double ones.

Xie Lian couldn’t help but laugh and shake his head when he saw the outcome. Suddenly, he heard footsteps behind him. He quickly composed himself and collected the smile on his face along with the dice.

It wasn’t Jun Wu’s footsteps. Jun Wu’s footsteps were steady, neither fast nor slow. Although Huacheng walked with a careless and casual gait, there was a sense of confidence in their strides. But these footsteps were somewhat lighter. Xie Lian turned around and was startled, saying, “It’s you.”

The person who had arrived was dressed in black, with fair skin, pale lips, and a cold and indifferent expression. He looked like a martial god, but also resembled a civil official. Was it Mu Qing or someone else?

Seeing Xie Lian’s slight surprise, he raised an eyebrow and said, “Who did you think it was? Fengxin?”

Without waiting for an answer, he lifted his black robes and stepped into the threshold, saying, “Fengxin probably won’t come.”

Xie Lian neither confirmed nor denied it and asked, “What are you here for?”

Mu Qing said, “The Emperor only forbade you from leaving but didn’t say that I couldn’t come.”

In fact, he didn’t answer Xie Lian’s question at all. But Xie Lian didn’t particularly want to know, so he didn’t pursue it either. As Mu Qing looked around the new Xianle Palace, his gaze fell on Xie Lian. After observing for a moment, he suddenly tossed something to him.

A green shadow flashed through the air, and Xie Lian caught it with his left hand. Looking at it, he realized it was a small porcelain bottle.

It was a medicine bottle. Mu Qing said indifferently, “Your right hand has been dripping blood like that, and it looks quite unsightly.”

Xie Lian held the medicine bottle but didn’t move, instead turning his gaze back to Mu Qing.

Since his third ascension, Mu Qing’s attitude towards him could only be described as “ambiguous”.

It was as if he was waiting for Xie Lian to be demoted for the third time so he could stand by and make sarcastic remarks. However, now that Xie Lian might actually be demoted for the third time, Mu Qing suddenly became pleasant and even specially brought him medicine. This sudden change in attitude made Xie Lian uncomfortable.

Seeing Xie Lian’s hesitation, Mu Qing smiled faintly and said, “Whether you use it or not, no one will bring you any more.”

His smile wasn’t mocking, and it could be seen that he was genuinely in a good mood. Although Xie Lian didn’t feel any pain in his right hand, it didn’t hurt to have some medicine. Previously, Jun Wu had patted his right hand as a temporary treatment, but having medicine was even better. So he opened the porcelain bottle absentmindedly and poured it onto his right arm. Instead of powdered pills, a faint blue smoke emerged from the bottle. The smoke flowed slowly, enveloping his right arm with a refreshing and fragrant scent. It was indeed a good medicine.

At that moment, Mu Qing suddenly asked, “Is everything Lang Qianqiu said true? Did you really kill those members of the Yong’an royal family?”

Hearing this, Xie Lian looked up at him.

Although Mu Qing had been restraining himself, Xie Lian could still sense a hint of uncontrollable excitement in his eyes.

Mu Qing seemed very interested in the details of his bloodbath at the Golden Splendor Feast and asked, “How did you do it?”

At that moment, heavy footsteps came from behind them. Both of them turned their heads, only to see Fengxin entering the Xianle Palace.

Upon seeing Mu Qing inside the grand hall, standing beside Xie Lian with a smile, Fengxin frowned and asked, “What are you doing here?”

Xie Lian raised the small porcelain bottle in his hand. Mu Qing, who had just said that Fengxin wouldn’t come, was now standing here with a smile. Why did he find it amusing? Mu Qing replied, “I’m just here. Can’t I come if you can come?”

Ignoring him, Fengxin turned to Xie Lian. Before he could speak, Xie Lian said, “If both of you have the same question, I’ll give a unified answer. There’s no need to doubt. Everything I said in the Divine Military Temple today was true.”

Upon hearing this, Fengxin’s face turned slightly pale.

2 / 2

Mu Qing couldn’t stand his current appearance any longer. He straightened his clothes and said, “Enough, General Nanyang, control yourself. At this point, who are you pretending to be sorrowful for?”

Fengxin gave him a sharp glance, then turned his head and pointed to the door, saying, “I’m not pretending for you. Get out!”

Mu Qing retorted, “You have the audacity to tell me to get out? You talk about loyalty, but after enduring a few years, what did you do? You ran away just like everyone else.”

Veins bulged on Fengxin’s forehead as he closed his eyes, seemingly trying to ignore the situation. Xie Lian had a premonition that the conversation was heading in an unfavorable direction, so he raised his hand and said, “Stop. Stop.”

But Mu Qing was not the type to stop easily. He sneered, “Everyone says that General Nanyang couldn’t bear to witness his former lord’s downfall out of great righteousness. Fine. But behind this pretense, aren’t you just tired of wasting time with a useless person?”

A sudden surge of anger made Fengxin’s eyes turn red. Opening his eyes, he threw a punch and said, “What do you know?!”

With a loud “bang,” Mu Qing’s fist landed squarely on his face.

Mu Qing was a typical pretty face, and he was hit by the sudden and fierce punch as if he had been smashed like a persimmon on his face. Blood flowed from his face, but he remained tough, not uttering a sound. Without hesitation, he returned the blow with a punch and said, “Then what do you know about me?!”

After ascending, both of them had their own treasures and weapons. However, when anger consumed them, they had to resort to physical violence to vent their frustrations. Eight hundred years had passed, and their martial strength remained evenly matched. The sound of fists hitting flesh echoed, making it difficult to determine who had the upper hand. Fengxin angrily said, “Who doesn’t know about your despicable intentions? You’re happy when bad things happen to him and you’re spared!”

Mu Qing sneered, “I know you’ve always looked down on me. It’s laughable! Just look at yourself! What right do you have to look down on me? The pot calling the kettle black!”

Unexpectedly, before Lang Qianqiu and Xie Lian could even start fighting, Fengxin and Mu Qing had already begun. They fought fiercely, cursing each other, not even bothering to listen to each other’s insults. Who would still listen to Xie Lian? Xie Lian remembered that when they were young, Mu Qing was a timid and polite person. He didn’t dare to raise his voice or throw punches, always hiding behind others. If Fengxin wanted to fight someone, Xie Lian would tell him to go ahead, and he would fight or stop as told. But now, things were different. Xie Lian had no experience in intervening when the two of them fought. He rubbed his forehead as he walked, thinking of quickly going to the door and calling for some officials to break up the fight. However, before he could step out of the grand hall, a loud noise came from the front. Both Fengxin and Mu Qing were surprised by the sound, immediately stopping and looking towards its source.

The doors of Xianle Palace were kicked open. Instead of the wide and open Godly Military Street of Xianjing, there was a gloomy darkness outside.

Within the darkness, countless chilling silver butterflies swarmed towards them.