Chapter 236 The Pearl (3)
The Xuantian Continent was really small compared to Boundless Mainland. It was about half the size of the Fei Li Empire and was much smaller than the Zhongtian Empire. Therefore, it had to rely much more on the sea for resources than the Boundless Mainland did, so when it came to oceangoing vessels they were a far cry from Boundless Mainland.
As for Heavenly Jewel Masters? Xuantian Continent had many sects, but they were different from Boundless Mainland's Great Saint Lands. Xuantian Palace stood alone on Xuantian Continent, and was the cornerstone for the Xuantian Empire's unification of the continent 1,300 years ago. There were no other nations on this continent, while the smaller Heavenly Jewel Master sects existed under Xuantian Palace's graces.
So it was very simple on Xuantian Continent. The Xuantian Empire and Xuantian Palace took center stage, and there wasn't too much quarreling. Xuantian Palace flourished for a time, but with no competition or foreign enemies the Xuantian Empire became complacent.
Of course, Zhou Weiqing wasn't really interested in any of that. The most useful information he obtained was about how to join Xuantian Palace.
Xuantian Palace was unsurpassed on Xuantian Continent. There were only two ways to join. The first way was to be selected by the Palace before the age of ten. Once selected you could directly join the Palace, at which point you had to undergo more screening to test your gift for cultivation and the state of your Personal Jewels Awakening. Only the most outstanding youths were given the the opportunity to enter Xuantian Palace's Inner Palace.
There was another way to join Xuantian Palace, but it was different from the Great Saint Lands of Boundless Mainland. The Palace recruited independent cultivators, possibly because it was not worried about being infiltrated by enemies as it was the only Saint Land on Xuantian Continent. Naturally, they only accepted the most outstanding rogue cultivators.
Every year Xuantian Palace held its annual Xuantian Trials.
The Xuantian Trials were first held in each major city in the Xuantian Empire. The top three independent cultivators in each major city were able to participate in the finals held at the capital Heavenly City. There was no set number of independent cultivators who would be admitted to Xuantian Palace each year; it was all determined by their strength and potential.
The first requirement which new admissions were subjected to was the age requirement. Generally speaking, only independent cultivators below thirty years of age were accepted into Xuantian Palace. They would be able to accumulate merit points in order to acquire techniques from Xuantian Palace. If someone with exceptional potential appeared who managed to pass Xuantian Palace's various trials, they would also have a chance to join the Inner Palace.
But of course, the age restriction didn't apply to powerhouses at or above Heavenly King level. All who were at or above the Heavenly King level who wished to join Xuantian Palace would have to undergo a different set of trials. As for what they entailed, Zhou Weiqing wasn't able to find out aboard this vessel.
Without question, Shangguan Bing'er and Zhou Weiqing's ages meant that they could only attempt the 'second' method. To the Heavenly Jewel Masters of the Xuantian Continent, being able to join Xuantian Palace was not only an enormous honor, it was also enormously beneficial. Inner Palace disciples of Xuantian Palace could receive materials needed for Consolidation and Skill Storing without any conditions attached. Even Outer Palace disciples were given countless benefits.
In the Xuantian Continent, all Skill Storing Palaces belonged to Xuantian Palace. One could imagine how unbelievably massive and powerful Xuantian Palace was! Even the selection of each Xuantian Emperor had to be approved by Xuantian Palace.
Zhou Weiqing's target was the Spatial Teleportation Gem. After learning this information regarding Xuantian Palace, he realized that this meant he and Bing'er would become enemies of the entire Xuantian Continent! The difficulty involved in acquiring the Spatial Teleportation Gem was far greater than he had expected.
However, Zhou Weiqing had already thought of a solution. No matter what, he had to first join Xuantian Palace so that he would be proximity to his target. Only upon entering the organization would he have a higher chance of success. Otherwise, he probably wouldn't even be able to find out where the Spatial Teleportation Gem was even located.
The rest of their journey was uneventful, and the ship didn't encounter any difficulties at all. It had a Heavenly Expert guarding it, after all! So long as it didn't encounter another terrifying sea beast like the giant turtle, it wouldn't be in any real danger.
Zhou Weiqing was an affable person, while Shangguan Bing'er was dazzlingly beautiful. They were quickly welcomed into the ranks of the Heavenly Jewel Masters, who were just as honored here as they were back home. The ordinary sailors didn't dare to show them any discourtesy at all.
This great ship was named the 'Pearl', and it was owned by Grandmaster Guyu himself. Grandmaster Guyu wasn't a member of Xuantian Palace; he was one of the very, very few clan leaders in the Xuantian Continent who ruled a powerful clan and yet was not part of Xuantian Palace.
But of course, all Heavenly Jewel Masters had to subordinate themselves to Xuantian Palace. If he did not, his fate would be eradication. This particular ocean voyage had been a very profitable one. Their goal was to collect some valuable gifts which they could send to Xuantian Palace, so as to better the chances of their clan's children being granted admission into the Inner Palace.
In the Xuantian Continent, the various clans didn't try to compete in wealth or combat power. Instead, they competed in how highly placed their members were in Xuantian Palace. This odd phenomena was something which did not exist in the Boundless Mainland.
Grandmaster Guyu had been planning on accepting Zhou Weiqing and his wife into his own clan, but after learning about the 'Immortal Deity Technique' which Zhou Weiqing trained in, he gave up on that notion. No clan would be willing to accept and put resources into training someone who could die at any moment due to his own cultivation technique.
Thus, when Zhou Weiqing sought out Grandmaster Guyu and asked him to provide a letter for himself and his wife in support of them taking part in the Xuantian Trials, Guyu immediately agreed.
Zhou Weiqing performed beautifully aboard this vessel. Whenever he encountered middle-ranked sea beasts, he would immediately fight with all his power to help the ship's Heavenly Jewel Masters defend. He never asked for the slightest bit of compensation. Each time, he would claim that this was all for the sake of repaying them for saving him. His behavior was perfectly proper, and he gave no excuse for anyone to suspect him of anything. As a result, Guyu was happy to do this favor for him. Zhou Weiqing's 'Immortal Deity Technique' wasn't necessarily guaranteed to result in failure, after all. If he truly did manage to succeed in mastering it, he would become a freakishly powerful figure.
Guyu had no idea, of course, that in the Boundless Mainland which was far larger than the Xuantian Continent, Zhou Weiqing had long ago become viewed as an absolute freak of nature.
The ship spent a full month on the return journey. Slowly, a dark shore appeared on the distant horizon. They had all been at sea for far too long. Even the Heavenly Jewel Masters aboard the vessel couldn't help but let out whoops of glee when they saw the shore appear. To be able to survive the fickle seas and come back safely was something worth celebrating for any seafarer.
Zhou Weiqing held Shangguan Bing'er by the hand. They stood on the deck of the ship, staring off into the distance. In this moment, their hearts were filled with boundless heroism as they silently celebrated. Xuantian Continent! We've made it.
An hour later, the Pearl slowly slid into the dock. By the time the ship came to a halt, the wharf had already become filled with countless noisy welcomers.
"Coming back alive is a wonderful feeling." Guyu's voice rang out from behind. Zhou Weiqing turned to look, only to see the Heavenly King powerhouse walk towards him.
During the course of their interactions, Zhou Weiqing had come to have a good impression of Guyu. Guyu was a very reserved senior, but his personality was extremely kind. He was a high-level Heavenly King powerhouse who had no chance of breaking through to become a Heavenly Emperor, but on the Xuantian Continent he was still a true powerhouse of his generation.
"Grandmaster, how could someone as powerful as you fear the sea?" Zhou Weiqing said with a smile.
Guyu let out a startled laugh. "How could I not fear it? I don't want to be disrespectful, but even the current Palace Lord of Xuantian Palace would be just as cautious when traveling on the seas."
Zhou Weiqing asked curiously, "Do the members of Xuantian Palace also voyage out into the oceans?"
Guyu nodded. "Of course. The sea itself is a bottomless vault of treasures. I heard that long ago, when Xuantian Palace was first formed, it actually managed to kill a Terror Sea Dragon which had somehow suffered a heavy injury elsewhere. They made an absolute fortune from its corpse! It was this which jump started them into becoming the pre-eminent Xuantian Palace which then expanded over the course of many years to their present heights."
Zhou Weiqing smiled. "Grandmaster, I'm afraid we're going to have to bid you farewell."
Guyu nodded. "Stay safe. If things don't work out at the Xuantian Trials, we'd welcome you here within our clan."
"Thank you, Grandmaster." Zhou Weiqing bowed again before leading Shangguan Bing'er off the vessel.
Guyu's two disciples stood behind him. One of them said, "Teacher, I keep on having the feeling that this Zhou Weiqing fellow is a bit odd. He doesn't seem to care about anything at all."
Guyu smiled, nodding in satisfaction. "If you were able to notice that, you've improved quite a bit. Even I am unable to see through this youth, to say nothing of you! His background isn't as simple as what he claimed. However, as far as we should be concerned, an extra friend is always better than an extra enemy."
Zhou Weiqing had no way of knowing what Guyu's evaluation of him was. He just led Shangguan Bing'er off the boat, then squeezed his way past the thronging crowd at the docks.
Whenever a great long-distance vessel such as the Pearl came back safely from a voyage, it would come laden with spoils. The countless people waiting at the docks were almost all merchants who wanted to try and buy some precious items from the vessel, then resell it at a higher price.
After squeezing past the grounds, Zhou Weiqing led Shangguan Bing'er into this coastal city. The feeling of dry land underfoot was absolutely wonderful! They were once more able to sense the deep, rich Earth-attribute energy pulsing through the ground below them, and it felt like it had been ages since they had last done so.
"I really want to cast everything away and just stay here at the Xuantian Continent. No one recognizes us here, and I don't have to worry about all of those troublesome matters," Zhou Weiqing said.
Shangguan Bing'er glanced at him, a not-quite smile playing around her lips. "Could you really bear to?"