With a single thrust, the sword pierced through the heart of the demonic creature, killing it on the spot.

“Subdue demons and vanquish evil, bestowed by the heavenly officials!”

The sound of roaring waves echoed along the Divine Martial Street, growing louder and louder. In front of the crimson palace gates and within the circular arena, the two Daoists portraying the celestial being and the demonic creature performed a final salute before stepping back. The crowd was filled with excitement after witnessing this captivating martial arts performance. Not only were the streets packed with people, but even rooftops were occupied by daring individuals, applauding, cheering, and celebrating with great enthusiasm.

The scene was truly a sight to behold, with the entire city coming to a standstill. In the history of Xian Yue Kingdom, if one were to discuss an unparalleled and extraordinary event during the Lantern Festival, it would undoubtedly be today!

On the high platform, rows of nobles and officials in their splendid attire wore polite smiles as they overlooked the scene below. Within the palace, a long line of several hundred people awaited their turn. As the bell chimed loudly, the royal adviser adjusted his nonexistent long beard and said, “Prepare for the procession!”

“Present!”

“Dancers!”

“Present!”

“Musicians!”

“Present!”

“Cavalry!”

“Present!”

“Demonic creature!”

“Present.”

“Yue Divine Warriors!”

No response. The royal adviser furrowed his brows, realizing that something was amiss. He turned and asked, “Yue Divine Warriors? Where is the Crown Prince?”

Still, there was no response. The one who had answered as the “demonic creature” paused and removed the green-faced, fanged mask, revealing a fair and delicate face.

This young man appeared to be around sixteen or seventeen years old. His complexion and lips were pale, giving him a clean appearance. However, his eyes were like a pair of bright and flickering obsidian stones. His soft hair fell in a few strands on his forehead and cheeks, adding to his quiet and well-behaved demeanor, which sharply contrasted with the menacing demonic mask in his hand.

He spoke softly, “The Crown Prince has left.”

The royal adviser nearly fainted.

He remembered that he couldn’t faint at such a critical moment and managed to hold himself together. With a mixture of anger and fear, he said, “What?! How could he have left? When did the Crown Prince leave? The ceremonial guard is about to depart from the palace gates, the ornate platforms are ready to be carried out, and we only see the demonic creature, not the celestial being. I can’t even get my old bones out of here! Why didn’t you stop him, Mu Qing?!”

Mu Qing lowered his head and said, “The Crown Prince asked me to convey a message before he left. He said there was no need to worry and that the proceedings should continue as planned. He will arrive soon.”

The royal adviser was anxious and said, “How can we not worry? What does ‘soon’ mean? When is ‘soon’? What if he doesn’t make it in time?!”

Outside the palace gate, the waiting crowd of people who had been waiting since early morning grew impatient and began urging them. A Daoist hurriedly approached and said, “Master Royal Adviser, a messenger from the Empress is here asking why the ceremonial guard has not set off yet. The auspicious time is almost here, and if they don’t depart soon, they will miss it.”

Hearing this, the royal adviser wished that at this moment, rebels would suddenly invade the city and disrupt the Lantern Festival.

They had caused a mess at this crucial moment!

If it were someone else who had caused this mess, he would have erupted in fury, possibly even resorting to killing, but unfortunately, the person responsible was his most cherished disciple and the most honored son of another prestigious family. He couldn’t harm him, scold him, or even kill him. Rather than killing him, it would be better to take his own life!

At that moment, a figure made its way through the pitch-black palace gate and hurriedly entered the palace. He shouted, “Master Royal Adviser, why haven’t you given the order to depart? The auspicious time is almost here, and everyone is waiting outside!”

The person who arrived was also a young man of around sixteen or seventeen years old. He stood tall and had a wheat-colored complexion. He carried a black longbow and a quiver filled with white feathers on his back. With tightly pursed lips and a furrowed brow, despite his young age, his gaze was resolute. The royal adviser seized the young man and asked, “Fengxin, where is the Crown Prince?”

Fengxin paused for a moment, then seemed to understand something. His eyes filled with anger as he glared at Mu Qing, who had already remained silent and once again donned the demonic mask, concealing his expression. Fengxin spoke in a deep voice, “There’s no time to explain now! Let’s depart immediately. The Crown Prince won’t let you down!”

There was no other choice. If they didn’t carry the ornate platforms outside, the absence of the Yue Divine Warriors would ruin everything. Delaying any further would result in missing the auspicious time. The royal adviser waved his hand in despair and said, “Play the music and let’s depart!”

As commanded, the sound of flutes, pipes, and strings resonated. At the forefront of the procession, one hundred royal guards shouted in unison and set off with determined strides, leading the majestic procession out.

The warriors marched at the front, symbolizing the trials and tribulations of the journey. Following closely behind were the exceptionally pure and beautiful maidens, carrying baskets and scattering flowers like heavenly nymphs. The musicians sat upon golden chariots, and as they emerged from the palace gate, their presence evoked awe and admiration, with the crowd scrambling to catch the falling petals. However, no matter how magnificent and extravagant the preceding acts were, they were mere preludes to the grand finale. The Huatai, the final spectacle, was about to make its appearance.

The Huatai, pulled by sixteen white horses with golden reins, slowly passed through the dim palace gate, revealing itself to the tens of thousands of onlookers. On the platform stood a figure clad in black, wearing a ferocious mask and holding a colossal nine-foot-long battle axe, assuming a formidable stance.

The royal adviser’s heart tightened, hoping for a miracle. However, no miracle occurred. The crowd erupted into murmurs. In the high towers, the nobles furrowed their brows and exchanged glances, asking, “What’s going on? Where are the Yue Divine Warriors?”

“Hasn’t the Crown Prince arrived?”

“What about Big Brother Ling?”

At the center of the tower, a handsome man sat alongside an elegant and fair-skinned woman, the monarchs of Xian Yue Kingdom. Not seeing the expected participants, the queen looked at the king with a worried expression. The king held her hand, assuring her with his gaze to remain calm and observe the situation. However, there was no one to appease the restless crowd on the streets. They grew more agitated, shouting loudly as if they wanted to overturn the rooftops. The royal adviser cursed himself for not having the courage to end his own life on the spot. Unfortunately, Mu Qing, on the Huatai, remained calm and meticulous, diligently fulfilling his duties even in the absence of others. He firmly planted the heavy battle axe, “clang,” into the ground, positioning it before him.

In a tense atmosphere, this young man dressed in black, despite his slender and refined appearance resembling that of a scholarly youth, swung the seemingly weightless nine-foot-long axe with remarkable grace and precision. Dozens of Daoists playing the role of demon hunters one by one leaped onto the stage, only to be defeated and driven off by him. Although his dazzling display of swordplay was indeed captivating, many in the crowd were not there to witness the “demon’s rampage.” They cried out, “Where are the Yue Divine Warriors?!”

“Where is the Crown Prince?”

“We want to see the Divine Emperor, played by the Crown Prince! Vanquish the demon!”

From the high towers, a voice angrily exclaimed, “Where is my cousin? What is going on?! Who wants to see these playthings? Damn it! Where is my cousin, the Crown Prince?!”

Without needing to look, it was certain that the loudest voice belonged to Qi Rong, the Mirror King. True to expectations, many people looked up and saw a young man dressed in light blue brocade, with a collar around his neck, rushing to the edge of the high platform, anger flashing in his face as he raised his fist. This young man was only fifteen or sixteen years old, with fair skin and fine features, but his face was filled with murderous intent, as if he were about to leap over the railing and attack someone. However, the tower was too high, and jumping from there would either result in death or broken legs. So, he grabbed a white jade teacup and threw it down instead.

The teacup flew swiftly toward the back of the demon’s head, seemingly destined to knock him unconscious and cause bloodshed. However, the demon made a slight sidestep, and with a flick of his axe, he deftly caught the teacup on its blade.

The trembling teacup balanced precariously on the sharp edge, eliciting cheers from the crowd. Mu Qing lifted his axe again, and the teacup descended, caught by a Daoist below, while he continued to play the role of the demon calmly and skillfully, brandishing his weapon and striking down adversaries. Qi Rong became furious and prepared to throw another object, but the queen had someone pull him back, finally managing to restrain him. However, the expressions of the royal family members grew increasingly grave, and some could no longer stay seated.

The Yue Divine Warriors, the highlight of the grand event, had suddenly vanished before the festival began. This was not an amusing turn of events!

Just then, a burst of thunderous applause erupted from the crowd, louder and more enthusiastic than any before. A figure in white descended from the sky and landed before the black-clad demon!

As he landed, his flowing white robes formed a magnificent flower shape on the Huatai, and a golden mask covered his face. One hand held a sword, while the other lightly flicked the gleaming blade, producing a melodious “ding” sound. Despite the intense atmosphere, this action exuded an air of calm indifference, as if the black-clad demon before him was of no consequence. The sight caused Qi Rong’s eyes to gleam, his face turning red as he jumped up and shouted, “Cousin, the Crown Prince has arrived!!!”

Both upstairs and downstairs, everyone was left speechless.

This entrance truly felt like a heavenly being descending upon them, exuding audaciousness to the extreme!

The city tower was at least a dozen zhang high, yet the Crown Prince, as precious as a golden daughter, jumped straight down from it. In that moment, countless people believed that a true divine being had descended. Now, realizing the truth, their blood boiled, their scalps tingled, and they applauded with all their might. Qi Rong, in particular, shouted at the top of his lungs while leading the vigorous applause, his hands turning red from clapping so fervently. The King and Queen exchanged smiles and joined in the applause. The other members of the royal family also relaxed, relieved, and joined in the applause, expressing their admiration. The waves surged on either side of the Divine Martial Street, with hundreds of men so excited that they wanted to break through the warrior guards and rush forward to embrace the heroes and cheer.

On the Huatai, two figures, one black and one white, faced each other. The divine warrior and the demon finally engaged, their weapons clashing.

Now that they had finally caught up, the royal adviser’s suspended heart finally settled as he ascended the high platform. After nodding to his colleagues around him, he found a seat and settled down to watch. The King laughed and asked, “Royal Adviser, how did you come up with such a sensational entrance? It was truly remarkable.”

The adviser wiped away his sweat and smiled, saying, “Indeed, it was extraordinarily spectacular. However, to be honest, it wasn’t my idea. It was the Crown Prince’s.”

The Queen patted her chest and said, “That child is so reckless. He jumped straight down from such a height without a word, nearly causing me to stand up in fright.”

The adviser couldn’t help but feel a sense of pride and said, “Your Majesty, you can rest assured. The Crown Prince possesses exceptional martial arts skills. Even if the city tower were several times higher, he could ascend and descend effortlessly.”

The Queen’s face lit up with joy as she said in a gentle voice, “You have guided him well, Royal Adviser.”

The adviser chuckled, “Not at all, not at all. The Crown Prince is an extraordinary individual. He possesses exceptional talents and abilities, and it is an honor for me to have the opportunity to guide him. I have a premonition that with the Crown Prince’s presence, today’s Yueshen Festival will undoubtedly be the most spectacular in history.”

He repeated the word “exceptional” four times in quick succession, smoothly flowing. The King smiled slightly, turned his head, and said, “Let’s hope so.”

In this Yueshen Festival, the Divine Warrior and the Demon Warrior were the two most important roles. Both had to be young men with extraordinary martial arts skills. Especially the Divine Warrior, whose ceremonial attire was strictly regulated and magnificently ornate, weighed about forty to fifty catties once fully equipped. The warrior had to perform multiple rounds around the city under the watchful eyes of the crowd, enduring for at least two hours without making any mistakes. Naturally, exceptional martial arts skills were necessary.

Fortunately, these two young men were extremely talented. With flashing blades and swordplay, their back-and-forth combat was both captivating and precise, as if they had rehearsed it countless times. The King asked, “Who is playing the role of the demon fighting against the Crown Prince?”

The adviser cleared his throat and said, “Your Majesty, that is a disciple from the Huangji Temple named Mu Qing.”

The Queen spoke softly, “I think this child is doing quite well, slightly weaker than our son, perhaps on par with Fengxin?”

Upon hearing this, the adviser’s expression was dismissive. Qi Rong had been lying on the Queen’s lap, eating grapes. He quickly spat out the grape skin and said, “Pah, pah, pah! No, no, no! He’s not just slightly weaker, he’s far behind. Not just anyone can compare to my cousin!”

Hearing this, the Queen laughed and patted his head a few times, while the other nobles laughed heartily, teasing, “Young Master Rong, you’ve really tangled him up. You can’t go a day without praising him, or you’ll feel uncomfortable.”

In the sea of people below, they shouted, “Fight! Defeat him! Kill the demon!”

The fervor grew stronger and stronger. Qi Rong, with his hands cupped around his mouth, mimicked a trumpet and laughed, “Cousin, go! You can easily defeat him with just one hand. Show this kid what you’re made of!”

Suddenly, the demon on the stage made a sweeping strike, and the warrior parried with his sword, but exclaimed, “Huh?”

Normally, in the Yueshen Festival, the combat was only for entertainment and performance, and fighters would use only about seventy percent of their strength. However, after blocking that strike, the warrior nearly lost his sword. Obviously, the opponent had used their full strength.

Xie Lian slightly raised his head and spoke loudly, “Mu Qing?”

The youth playing the demon opposite him remained silent and launched another attack. Xie Lian had no time to think and blocked several strikes with a “clang, clang” sound. He thought, “This is much more interesting than the fake fight earlier.” With renewed vigor, he became genuinely interested in the battle.

The cheers erupted like a tidal wave, and sparks flew from clashing weapons. The more intense the battle on stage, the louder the cheers from the audience below. Suddenly, a sword whistled through the air, emitting a dazzling white light, and everyone gasped, holding their breath. It turned out that the Divine Warrior had flicked his slender sword, causing the demon’s nine-foot-long blade to be lifted into the air and impaled into a pillar at the side of the high platform. Some curious individuals tried to pull out the blade but failed despite exerting tremendous strength. They couldn’t help but be astonished, “What kind of blade is this? How powerful is it?”

Meanwhile, on the Huatai, the Divine Warrior shook his long sword and lightly tapped the blade. It emitted a crisp sound, and a soft laughter could be heard from behind the golden mask.

Xie Lian calmly and joyfully said, “Not bad. However, you still lost.”

The demon, weaponless and half-kneeling on the ground, remained silent but clenched his fist. Xie Lian twirled a sword flower, amidst the cheers from all directions, preparing to deliver the final strike and “vanquish” the demon. However, at this moment, screams erupted from above!

Xie Lian’s heart skipped a beat, he sheathed his sword, raised his head, and only had time to catch a glimpse of a blurry figure descending rapidly from the city wall.

In an instant, he had no time to think. With lightning speed, he tapped his toes and leaped up, gracefully gliding towards the figure.

He soared upwards, his sleeves fluttering like butterfly wings, landing lightly and gracefully, as if floating on air. In his hands, he securely held a child whose face was covered in bandages and whose body was covered in dirt. The child stared blankly at him, nestled in his arms.