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Chapter 962 – Burning the Heart with Fire (I)
Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr
The statement of the Great Western Continent's Second Prince instantly silenced the area around the high platform, then plunged it into an uproar.
Xiaode gazed at the Second Prince, his eyes cold. The other two demi-human experts glanced at each other with shock visible on their faces.
Xuanyuan Po's mouth was wide open as he found himself utterly speechless.
The young man in the bamboo hat continued to calmly stand with his head slightly lowered, concealed in the shadows.
Both the rumors and the events that followed indicated that the Empress was intent on marrying Princess Luoluo to the Second Prince of the Great Western Continent.
In the eyes of the Daoist church and the ambassador who Xuanyuan Po represented, the Second Prince was the one they needed to be most wary of.
But he was now declaring his withdrawal from the Heavenly Selection ceremony?
Just what was going on here? Was the rumor false? Were the events that followed also faked?
Why had the Empress held the Heavenly Selection ceremony then? What was she really planning? Just who did she actually want to marry Princess Luoluo to?
Xiaode, or those two other demi-human experts with deep backing?
Or was she intending to marry Princess Luoluo to the person that Xuanyuan Po represented… the Pope?
Countless gazes traveled between Madam Mu and the Great Western Continent's Second Prince.
The demi-human elders, ministers, and generals dearly wished to know what sort of trick this aunt and nephew were playing, and also what sort of explanation the Second Prince would have.
"Correct. I came with the diplomatic mission to White Emperor City with the intent of marrying my cousin, because I like her."
The Second Prince paused for a while, a bitter smile appearing on his face as he continued, "But since Cousin has already found her true love, why should I interfere in the middle? I have no desire for her to hold a grudge against me over this matter."
Many people turned to look at Xuanyuan Po.
Luoluo was the Second Prince's cousin, and the true love he spoke of was naturally a response to Xuanyuan Po's words from yesterday.
Before yesterday, few people knew of the fact that Luoluo loved her teacher, nor would they believe it if told. But once Xuanyuan Po said those words, many people suddenly felt that there was a high chance of this matter being true.
Regardless of whether the Great Western Continent's Second Prince was speaking the truth, this was the excuse he had used to withdraw from the Heavenly Selection and it was hard for anyone to object. Moreover, the reason he gave for withdrawing added even more fuel to the conflagration started by Xuanyuan Po's words, leaving Luoluo and Chen Changsheng to endure an even greater pressure.
Madam Mu did not give much of a reaction.
The withdrawal of the Second Prince of the Great Western Continent had been part of her plan in the first place.
This final statement of his that came from the depths of his heart, though not part of her plan, had already obtained her tacit approval.
She was currently more concerned with another matter, or, to put it more accurately, she was only concerned about this one thing.
As the sun gradually brightened, no one noticed her give a seemingly unintentional, but actually extremely profound glance towards a certain spot.
The young man in the bamboo hat stood in this spot.
Madam Mu had known who this young man was from the very start.
Whenever she thought about how he dared to leave Xuelao City alone, even she could not help but be deeply shocked.
This had been one of Black Robe's conditions.
Although she had agreed, she did not believe the matter would be this simple.
Logically speaking, it was absolutely impossible for the young man to pass the trial of the ancestral spirits, dooming him to a most tragic end.
Of course, any other young expert really might have taken such large risks to pass the trial and marry Luoluo. It was quite likely that they would receive the baptism of the Wildfire, remolding their body and soul to become a true demi-human.
Anyone would want to be the next White Emperor. This was one of the world's greatest temptations, one that not even Xiaode, an expert of the Proclamation of Liberation, could resist. The problem with this was that given the young man's identity, he absolutely could not become the next White Emperor, nor would he be willing to.
If one had to list the people on the continent that could disregard the temptation, the young man and the young Emperor of the Great Zhou would occupy the top two spots.
So why had Black Robe proposed this condition? Why had the young man participated in the Heavenly Selection, and why was he willing to enter the Celestial Tree and receive the baptism of the Wildfire? If it was just for allying with the Demi-human race to resist the ever-strengthening Human race, there were still many other methods.
The Xiang clan leader had not looked at the young man in the bamboo hat, but his attention had always been on him.
What confused Madam Mu also confused him. In addition, he did not know the contents of the treaty, so he was even more concerned.
He asked, "Is there any chance of an accident?"
Madam Mu replied, "Black Robe has always taken every possibility into account. Nothing should happen."
She paused, then said with an indifferent expression, "And if something happens to him here, that will also be fine by me."
The Xiang clan leader understood her meaning. He silently thought for a while, then said, "The Mountain-Cleaving Army reached the northern approach of Cong Province last night."
The Mountain-Cleaving Army was the Demi-human race's strongest army. For tens of thousands of years, it had been stationed in the frigid north, keeping watch on the demons.
Madam Mu said, "Chief Elder's plans will naturally go smoothly."
The Xiang clan leader finally could not help but shoot a glance at the young man in the bamboo hat.
If this young man died in the baptism of the Wildfire within the Celestial Tree, then… the most powerful army of the Demi-human race, the Mountain-Cleaving Army, would immediately notify the Great Zhou's Cong Province Army, and then in the north… the war would begin.
The Great Western Continent's Second Prince withdrew from the Heavenly Selection.
The final five left the high platform, following different paths to different mountains.
On the peaks of these five tall mountains grew five massive trees. These trees grew to unfathomable heights, thrusting into the sea of clouds so that their highest branches could not be seen. It was similarly impossible to imagine just how many li beneath the ground these colossal trees had spread their roots.
The closer one got to these massive trees, the hotter it became. Waves of heat, invisible yet undoubtedly real, emerged from the ground, sweeping across the earth like the stuffy winds of midsummer.
These waves of heat were the Qi of the Celestial Trees. As the rites of the Heavenly Selection ceremony proceeded, the Wildfire within the Celestial Trees had become increasingly vibrant, emanating a surging energy to the world. This was an infinite energy, carrying both a savage nature and an aura of most exuberant vitality.
The young man in the bamboo hat walked up to his Celestial Tree.
At the base of the Celestial Tree was a hollow, its entrance several dozen zhang tall and a hundred-some zhang wide. It was so enormous that it seemed more like a natural cave in a large mountain, able to hold the entire stone hall of White Emperor City's Imperial Palace.
What made one speechless was that there really was a stone hall within this giant tree hollow.
The young man's gaze traveled from the part of the Celestial Tree that touched the clouds to the stone hall within the hollow. He silently thought for a while, then pushed the front brim of the bamboo hat a little lower. He walked into the tree hollow, his figure quickly vanishing within the stone hall.
Xiaode and the other two demi-human experts entered their respective Celestial Trees.
The last to enter a Celestial Tree was Xuanyuan Po.
His footsteps were somewhat heavy, his movements slow, as his mood was somewhat depressed and uneasy.
As a member of the Demi-human race, he had heard countless legends about the Wildfire of the Celestial Trees and had worshipped the ancestral spirits countless times.
He was worried that the ancestral spirits would see his true intentions.
He was not participating in the Heavenly Selection ceremony to gain the final victory, marry Princess Luoluo, and become the next White Emperor.
He had come to make trouble.
Would the ancestral spirits forgive him for his disrespect?
As he entered the gloomy stone hall and traversed an incredibly long stone path, Xuanyuan Po felt more and more anxious.
Through his senses, he became very sure that he was walking underground, and that he had already gone very deep.
The stone path was extremely dry, with no sign of moisture, no water or moss. There was only an endless hot wind.
The deeper he went, the more scorching the wind became. As a demi-human, he could also sense that the Qi of the Wildfire was getting stronger and stronger.
The blazing waves of Qi did not slow his steps, as he did not find them painful.
He felt like the Qi within his body was getting wilder and wilder, his true essence growing increasingly lively.
But he was unaware that beneath his clothes, many lines were appearing on his body.
These complicated lines gradually formed a design that spread out from beneath his clothes, ultimately encroaching on his face.
In the faint red flow of the heat waves, the designs on his face seemed alive, beautiful in their strangeness, but also bursting with power.
Soon after, while he was completely unprepared, a bloody hue occupied his pupil while countless iron-like hairs exploded out of his skin. With a clacking sound, his body began to grow larger, seemingly imbued with an endless strength, exuding an aura of madness.
He was undergoing berserk metamorphosis.
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