The old man remained cool and collected without any sign of complacency or humbleness after hearing the praise.
“You have traveled through the world, one continent to another, Golden, Pure, Arrogance... Vast they might be, you’ll finish walking through them all the same. In each place, you change your craft, only one in each generation. This is quite a puzzling thing to others, making sesame cakes, straw mats, or tofu pudding. All of these different jobs you were able to reach the apex with.” Li Qiye revealed.
“Sacred Teacher, please don’t laugh. I’m simply trying to make it through the long years.” The old man smiled.
Li Qiye smiled back: “Only killing time is not enough to polish a dao heart. Only by truly living out life would one be able to reach the top of different things, each a grand dao in and of itself.”
“Only through experience would one be able to appreciate the colorful world.” The old man said: “I can’t be as magnificent as you, determined to sweep through the myriad ages. I am but a pebble in this epoch inside the river of time, just moving with the flow and tasting the unique scenes of the world.”
“There’s nothing bad about that.” Li Qiye chuckled: “Though emperors are destined to be great and reach the apex, having a different perspective is nice too. However, it is because the majority of them don’t have a choice, scared of the Heavenly Execution, not daring to step out to the world. You don’t have to worry about this so you can enjoy in the prosperity, so this is indeed a wondrous path for an emperor.”
“I blame it on my lacking talents, unable to dominate like my peers.” The old man humbly responded.
Li Qiye chuckled and thought that this tiny room was another world, at least in the eyes of the old man.
“Sacred Teacher, may I ask for the purpose of your visit?” The old man respectfully asked with cupped fist.
“If there was a dao heart in this world worthy enough for me to light up again in our epoch, it would certainly be yours, not counting my own. Thus, that is my purpose, do you believe me?” Li Qiye couldn’t help but smile.
Anyone else who could understand the implication would be frightened but the old man gently shook his head: “My feeble self can’t get into your sight. Lighting me up will have a limited effect too, it won’t reach your desired result.”
Li Qiye replied: “I’m just joking. Since I’m already at Arrogance and you’re here too, I wanted to come take a look at the miracle of the world. It is certainly worth my time.”
The old man shook his head again: “You’re too kind, Sacred Teacher. I’m only blessed by the heaven, this little dao is not worth mentioning.”
To which Li Qiye retorted: “The old villainous heaven has never given a damn about anyone and even if it wanted to, it wouldn’t be possible. You’re the only one who can do this, you have reached a balance with the heaven and earth, allowing you to live.”
“Part of this is because the other emperors favored me as well.” The old man said: “They have taught me a lot. Deep South Divine Emperor, World Emperor, Crimson Emperor, and a few others have taught me about the profundity of the grand dao.”
“You’re being too humbled now.” Li Qiye disagreed: “They didn’t teach you anything, only wanting to see the mysteries of the heaven and earth on you, the harmonious balance. Unfortunately, they couldn’t replicate it.”
“They have certainly tried, maybe some will be successful later on.” The old man said.
Li Qiye shook his head: “Too difficult. The emperors from the thirteen continents and the nine worlds all want to take the next step to reach the apex, same with me. To reach our current level, we have all fought against the heaven and earth, ourselves too. No one can truly be freed from ambition and thoughts. Some emperors could reach a zen state, letting go of all thoughts, but that is taking a step back in order to jump even farther.”
“Except for you.” He continued while looking at the old man: “Once reaching this balanced state on the grand dao, even if you’re not immortal, you’re certainly not far from it. Not taking from the heaven and earth and not punishing yourself, this is balance. For a mortal, if he could reach this mindset, he could live for a hundred years. As for an emperor like you, this grants you longevity and free passage in the world without the looming threat of the execution.”
“So many of your peers desire this, but no one can do it, outside for you and Mu Zhuo. However, he took it one step further and reached a state of repugnancy. Even the villainous heaven doesn’t want him, so he can’t die even if he wanted to.”
“Fellow Daoist Mu Zhuo’s grand dao is commendable.” The old man said: “I had the fortune of meeting him before. In terms of grand dao, his is too profound, not something we can do either.”
Li Qiye smiled and shook his head: “He has gone quite far on his dao, a place no one has reached before. However, he is waiting for death while you are living, a fundamental difference. Plus, you are also peerless on your path, all the other emperors have failed in trying to copy you.”
“This boils down to my contentedness and lack of ambition.” The old man said: “The top emperors are too ambitious, enough to shoulder twelve Heaven’s Wills and the power of the ages. That’s not something I can do either.”
“To gain is to lose.” Li Qiye gently sighed: “Twelve Heaven’s Wills can indeed allow one to reach the apex, but to gain for oneself is to take away from the world. That’s why the Heavenly Execution is there, not allowing them to live forever. Perhaps this is how it should be.”
“I am quite lucky to be like this right now.” The old man said.
“No such thing.” Li Qiye disagreed again: “Step by step to reach the will, your struggle was far more than anyone else. The arduous path towards the dao is unknown to those who have yet to experience it. The world only sees the glory of the emperors, not their pain and effort.”
The old man said: “The world also doesn’t know about your great acts, Sacred Teacher, yet you still protect this world quietly in the shadows.”
Li Qiye shook his head: “Not for much longer, it is the responsibility of emperors to protect it now.”
The old man wasn’t surprised to hear this. He nonchalantly asked: “What do you ask of me, Sacred Teacher? As long as it is possible, I will try my best. Though we are not from the same race, your doings and achievements demand our help.”
“It’s nothing.” Li Qiye said earlier: “Well, my comment earlier wasn’t a joke entirely. Of course, I’m not going to light you, not right now. But when that day comes in the future, you can warn the world.”
“I understand, you’re still worrying.” The old man said.
“Worry is a strong word, it is just that I should do what I can, that’s all.” Li Qiye said: “I’m sure that day is inevitable, who do you think will persevere or falter?”
The old man pondered before carefully replying: “I am too weak. The perspectives of the emperors are far beyond my grasp.”
The old man was prudence with his words because he wasn’t sure either. His answers would have an impact on their reputation and life.
“I don’t blame you.” This was within Li Qiye’s expectation: “Everyone can falter, but I’m confident that one person’s dao heart won’t - yours!”
“I appreciate your kind words.” The old man hurriedly said.
Li Qiye continued while shaking his head: “Kind words? No, I am pushing you towards your death. You know this.”
The old man eventually asked: “If there is meaning in my death, I certainly won’t be afraid.”
“I know you will not be afraid, unlike the other emperors. That’s why I’m here to see you.” Li Qiye nodded.
“The problem is my weak cultivation. I won’t be able to stop the waves in the future. Only twelve-will emperors can.” The old man said.
“No one can be so sure, power alone doesn’t mean they can bring prosperity to the world. Really, if these top beings will not hurt others when that day comes, it will already be quite amazing of them. As for whether to pay the price for the sake of others, that’s too hard to say and predict.” Li Qiye said flatly.
“I’m sure some will step up and protect, such as World Emperor.” The old man asserted.
“Geezer Qian? I’m not trying to put down my lifelong rival, but I’m afraid that it will be out of his control too.” Li Qiye chuckled.