Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr
The truth was always rather far off from the legends. No one could have imagined that the supposed fraudster alchemist Xu Fu had returned to the Central Plains and even accompanied the First Emperor to the Celestial Palace.
"It's not that simple. The First Emperor had many matters of state to attend to and would have had no time to find the Celestial Palace. As for a military man like Meng Wu, he would have never had an interest in something like this unless he was ordered by the First Emperor. There's a high chance that the First Emperor was only able to find this place due to Xu Fu's 'efforts'," Wang Chong said as he examined the black-robed alchemist.
"You're saying that Xu Fu colluded with the Celestial God Organization to lure the Qin First Emperor here?" Li Xuantu frowned as he murmured in shock.
"If that were true, Xu Fu wouldn't be kneeling on the ground and expressing remorse to the Qin First Emperor." Wang Chong looked around and concluded, "If my guess is right, Xu Fu was also being used, but there is no fixing this blunder, so in the end, the Qin First Emperor took his head."
The First Emperor had his hands on a sword which was thrust into the ground, radiating a tyrannical pressure. If one looked carefully, one would notice that there was a blackened blood stain on the blade. It was clear that he had personally cut off Xu Fu's head.
And Wang Chong felt no pain from Xu Fu. It was clear that Xu Fu had been willing. He had felt deep remorse for his blunder, but no matter what he did, nothing had been able to alter their ultimate fate.
Wang Chong and the others discovered even more.
On the First Emperor's belt was a simple black bell. The word '禅' (Shan) had been carved onto the bell, and on the other side had been written '天命正统' (Legitimate Mandate of Heaven).
"What is this?" Wang Chong said in surprise.
Wang Chong had seen many things, but he had never seen a sovereign carry a small bell like this.
"Let me take a look…"
Li Xuantu took the black bell from Wang Chong, and upon inspecting it, his eyes widened and his face turned solemn.
"Mount Tai's Fengshan Bell!"
Wang Chong's heart thumped as he turned to Li Xuantu.
"It's very normal for you to not know about this, but there are few in the clans of Emperors that do not know of this.
"Since ancient times, imperial authority has been received from the heavens, and it is called the Mandate of Heaven. And amongst the sovereigns, the most outstanding will carry out the Feng and Shan ceremonies at Mount Tai. At the summit of Mount Tai, they will erect an altar to the heavens and report their achievements. At the base of Mount Tai, they will clear the earth to report their achievements to the earth. This is Feng and Shan. It can also be called 'fulfilling the Mandate of Heaven'.
"But there is a very great taboo here, and one cannot perform the Fengshan ceremonies simply because one wants to. A sovereign's achievements must have been acknowledged by the people. Thus, while there have been many sovereigns, only a few have been able to perform the Fengshan ceremonies of Mount Tai. The Qin First Emperor was one of them, as was Emperor Wu of Han. Many officials recommended that Emperor Taizong carry out the Fengshan ceremonies and proclaim his achievements to the heavens and earth, but Taizong refused them.
"The Fengshan ceremonies have been a custom since ancient times. In the time of the Great Qin, they knew that there was such a ceremony, but the actual procedure had been lost. Even the Confucians and scholars of the Great Qin did not know, each having their own procedure. In the end, after gathering everyone's opinions, the First Emperor truly did manage to perform the Fengshan ceremonies. This bell is a Mount Tai Fengshan Bell, and there should be eleven more of them," Li Xuantu said.
If Li Taiyi had not appeared, he would have been the Son of Heaven of the Great Tang. Almost every sovereign dreamed about performing the Fengshan ceremonies, so how could Li Xuantu not know about them?
"I remember now that you've mentioned it. After the Qin First Emperor annihilated the other states and united the realm, he performed the Fengshan ceremonies at Mount Tai. He toured the east five times in his life, and each time, he passed near Mount Tai. It could be that the Qin First Emperor wasn't interested in Mount Tai itself. What if he had toured the east five times as an excuse to search Mount Tai for a path to the realm of immortals, for the Celestial Palace?"
Wang Chong's mind was whirring with all sorts of ideas, Li Xuantu's words causing him to make many connections.
After uniting the realm, the Qin First Emperor had been constantly seeking immortality. Though this matter had been kept a secret known to only a few, Zhao Gao and Meng Wu had definitely been in the know.
In his fifth tour, the Qin First Emperor must have made some progress and obtained some concrete information, so he had brought with him these Qin Guards. Moreover, Zhao Gao had probably waited for some time, and when he discovered that the First Emperor wasn't coming back from the Celestial Palace, he had developed an audacious idea. He returned to Xianyang with an empty casket and faked an imperial decree to have Fusu killed and Huhai made Emperor, throwing the entire Qin Empire into chaos.
But why was Xu Fu here?
Wang Chong once more glanced at Xu Fu's headless corpse.
Xu Fu had embarked on a massive fleet carrying thousands of boys and girls and a vast army, vanishing into the sea. Everyone knew this, so Xu Fu should have been overseas. Why was he here?
"If this entire matter was kept under wraps… then perhaps Xu Fu didn't go overseas?" Li Xuantu said after a few moments of thought.
Li Xuantu's words made both of them tremble.
If that was so, then everything could be explained.
"No, there's one other scenario," Wang Chong suddenly said. "Did you forget that the Celestial Palace can move? Wherever the entrance is, so long as Heaven wants it, he can easily lure others into this place."
Li Xuantu's eyes widened. This truly was a possibility.
"But there's one other point that can't be explained. Why did Heaven lure the Qin First Emperor here? It was Huo Qubing, and now it's the Qin First Emperor. What is it that Heaven wanted from them that he would go to such great lengths to obtain?"
Li Xuantu's brow furrowed.
None of these events were independent. In the Heaven-Reaching Path, they had encountered Ge Zhu, and in the first region, they had found the scholar and Daoist. In the second region, there was Huo Qubing, and in the third region, there was the Qin First Emperor. Li Xuantu sensed that all these incidents were linked.
The Celestial Palace had a master. Why had Heaven lured them all here?
Li Xuantu had been pondering this problem the entire time, but he had yet to find an answer. He sensed that the answer would be closely linked to their objective.
Wang Chong turned pensive upon hearing Li Xuantu's question.
"We can investigate this matter later. Let's go farther inside. In addition, we should be able to find the answer in the deepest part of the Celestial Palace," Wang Chong finally concluded.
This wasn't the deepest part of the Celestial Palace. Wang Chong yet to see anything that was linked to the core.
Li Xuantu nodded. The two of them continued forward, but as the two of them passed the body of the Qin First Emperor…
Everything suddenly trembled, even the sky. An enormous energy centered on the Qin First Emperor exploded out of the ground, transforming into a terrifying seal that blasted Wang Chong and Li Xuantu back.
Besides that, the still form of the Qin First Emperor exploded with a frightening aura that was countless times more powerful than before.
That enormous pressure coming from in front of them made both of them pale.
Both Wang Chong and Li Xuantu were supreme experts of their age, but the energy erupting from the Qin First Emperor's body was far more frightening.
For a moment, the two of them felt like the long-dead Qin First Emperor had come back to life.
Li Xuantu's entire body tensed as he warily stared.
"Such powerful Sword Qi!"
Wang Chong was also staring at the Qin First Emperor.
The Qin First Emperor’s sword had originally been thrust into the ground, but at this moment, the black sword erupted with energy, a savage Sword Qi slicing through the air and pointing straight to the heavens, condensing into an enormous sword.
The sword intent within the sword locked onto the two of them. It seemed that if the two of them moved, it would bring down a destructive attack.
Above the Qin First Emperor's head, Stellar Energy converged into a line of words.
'Our will is the will of the heavens! Withdraw!'
Each word was imbued with an immense pressure and gleamed with a sharp light.
No one had expected this development, and the mood turned grim.
"Master, be careful!" Little Nightmare's voice rang out. Even it had sensed a frightening danger.
"This is a problem. The Qin First Emperor probably poured his energy into the Celestial Palace before his death, using his will to ensure that this energy lingered. Even after one thousand years, it's as strong as ever. It's no wonder that sword in his hands was still standing."
As a Grotto Heaven realm expert, Li Xuantu quickly understood what was going on.
With their cultivation, the two of them should have been able to sense something, but the Qin First Emperor had also been a terrifyingly powerful expert. Most importantly, as they ventured deeper into the Celestial Palace, that omnipresent disruptive energy grew stronger and stronger, interfering more and more with their senses.
"Be careful! Let me try!"
Wang Chong brought his index and middle fingers together like a sword, and a moment later, a bolt of powerful sword intent shot out of Wang Chong's body.
Art of God and Demon Obliteration!
The air trembled and the world darkened as a gray bolt of Sword Qi extended to a length of several hundred feet and shot toward the Qin First Emperor.
The moment Wang Chong's Sword Qi emerged, it seemed to trigger something, and frightening amounts of energy began to converge. At the same time, with a great boom, that giant sword swung down at Wang Chong.
The two Sword Qis clashed, and a moment later, Wang Chong's God Demon Obliteration Sword Qi was blasted apart by the Qin First Emperor's Sword Qi.
Wang Chong's eyes flew open and his face paled, and Li Xuantu was just as shocked.
The Art of God and Demon Obliteration was the number one sword art of the Central Plains. Wang Chong had known that the Qin First Emperor was powerful, but he had not expected his sword intent to be this powerful. Though Wang Chong was at the Grotto Heaven realm, his Sword Qi had still not been able to match this deceased Emperor's Sword Qi.
But there was no time to think, as that frightening Sword Qi blotted out the sky and descended with frightening momentum upon Wang Chong.
Bzzz! Wang Chong blinked away, and a split-second later, that enormous black sword made of Sword Qi descended like a toppling pillar on the place where Wang Chong had been standing.