Too much hot blood had been spilled at the Barren Earth. It could be said that all of the most tragic battles back then took place here.
Each time he visited this place, Li Qiye couldn’t help but recall all of those souls. Sometimes, he wished that time would stop so that he could stay with these lost comrades!
While standing near the bank of a broken river, Li Qiye quietly listened to the moving current. Ye Chuyun stood beside him and held his hand for comfort.
Li Qiye looked at her then pointed at the broken area ahead: “Did you know that in a distant era, this place was piled with corpses? Without the bodies of those heroes, the nine worlds of today wouldn’t exist.”
“I don’t know much about the battles in the past.” Ye Chuyun held his hand and spoke: “But I do hope for you to keep on moving forward. Our ancestors worked hard so that their descendants could continue to tread forward. I am sad to see you feeling so down.”
Li Qiye gently sighed while looking at the sceneries ahead. That war was far too cruel. Countless generals and soldiers in his strongest legion died on this land!
“Come, let us go to the Heavenguard Sect.” Eventually, he shook his head and moved on.
Ye Chuyun continued to quietly accompany him as they headed eastbound. Sometimes, she would introduce the land to him, hoping to see him smile.
The Heavenguard Sect was a lineage whose fame had long since spread across the entire Mortal Emperor World. It had three emperors, thus its prestige was difficult to match.
In the Barren Earth, there were two sects with three emperors. One was the Heavenguard Sect while the other was the Mysterious Bamboo Mountain. If the mountain was a prosperous heritage, then the sect was on a downward slope. This was especially true for the recent few generations. The sect had been low-key for a long time now.
Nevertheless, its high status in this world was not only due to its number of emperors, but also due to its efforts!
In the distant Ancient Ming Era, there was a legend. It stated that the Heavenguard Sect participated in many conquests and countless geniuses fell in those battles! It paid a heavy price after each war.
Keep in mind that the sect was extremely powerful since this was before the Emperors Era. Some people even calculated that it produced the highest amount of Godkings and True Gods. They even claimed that it was the strongest lineage with three Emperors in this world!
If it wasn’t for their involvement in these incredible battles and losing many Godkings and geniuses, perhaps it would have surpassed the unequaled Soaring Immortal Sect!
It has been said that the Heavenguard was the pride of the human race, its protectors. Because of this, other imperial lineages were very respectful towards the Heavenguard Sect.
Li Qiye and Ye Chuyun finally arrived. They saw many majestic divine peaks. All of these peaks towered high into the sky as if they were the abodes of gods.
No matter who they might be, anyone would feel insignificant while standing outside and gazing at this sect from a distance, as if they were mere insects. The supreme momentum in the sect’s ancestral ground made it seem like the stars were orbiting this location.
There was a monolith erected immediately outside of its entrance. There were no words carved on it, only the image of a crown that seemed as if it belonged to an Immortal Monarch of the nine heavens.
Li Qiye softly sighed while standing outside of the sect’s entrance. He had finally returned to this place after so many years.
In those far-off days, every time he left this place, he was accompanied by the men of this sect on his expeditions. During the Ancient Ming Era, not many of them returned alive.
Thus, later on, he didn’t want to return to this sect as he no longer wanted them to follow him. He didn’t wish to see its disciples riding his war chariots!
In his eyes, the sect’s sacrifices in that last battle during the Ancient Ming Era alone were a heavy price for it to shoulder. It had always supported him in his war against the Ancient Ming.
His legions clashed against the Ancient Ming time after time during the endless war. Many of his troops were from the Heavenguard Sect. He felt that the sect had paid its dues, so he no longer returned.
Back when Immortal Emperor Zhen Yu and Immortal Emperor Mu Tian were young and aspired for the apex, he had helped them many times. Nevertheless, he didn’t set foot in this place during the Emperors Era and had always refused the two Emperors’ continuous beseeching. 1
While the two stood outside of the gate, a guard from the sect shook his head and told them: “Dao friends, please return. Our sect does not meet guests.”
Li Qiye looked at him and said: “Yes, but I’m not a guest.”
The disciple couldn’t help but look at him again and asked: “May I ask for your name?”
Li Qiye didn’t answer him. He told Ye Chuyun: “You settle down here. I will go meet them.” With that, he went closer to the stone monolith and opened his mind. Two golden universal laws flew out and went straight into the monolith.
“Buzz!” The wordless monolith suddenly lit up with golden light.
“Clank!” The two universal laws actually turned into two words — Emperor. 2
The word “Emperor” was dazzling with a majestic and carefree aura. Next, the word disappeared and the monolith opened. A golden crown emerged; it was also formed from the two universal laws.
Li Qiye took it and solemnly placed it atop his head. While being on top of his head, golden tassels emerged and dropped down in front of his face. He immediately began emitting an awe-inspiring aura that made it seem like he was an Immortal Monarch! 3
Ye Chuyun was moved by Li Qiye’s current appearance. Anyone would be awestruck by him at this moment.
The disciples guarding that gate were shocked as well. This monolith had been standing here for so many years, but they never knew about this magical effect.
Li Qiye told the guards at the entrance: “Go, ring the bell, the Emperor has returned.”
“The Emperor has returned…” The disciples shook once in shock. They calmed down and quickly ran inside without questioning him.
Li Qiye wore his golden crown and headed inside the Heavenguard Sect! There was an unspeakable burden in his heart as he stepped into this all too familiar land.
“Clangg—” A sonorous bell rang for miles and miles. Even the ancestors sleeping in the deepest depths of the sect could hear it.
“The bell! The Emperor is back!” These hibernating ancestors were woken up by the sound of the bell. One of them murmured in astonishment: “Is this real?!”
Li Qiye entered a temple and sat in the highest position before commanding the disciples: “Tell your ancestors or sect master to come see me.”
The guards were startled, but they didn’t dare to show any disrespect and quickly carried out the order.
A moment later, a middle-aged man hastily rushed in. After coming inside, he saw Li Qiye sitting in that place and was shocked. He carefully looked at Li Qiye, his gaze pausing on the golden crown above his head for a long time.
“All of you, leave.” After confirming his thoughts, the middle-aged man commanded the guards. All of them obeyed and left.
Li Qiye looked at this man. He was a pudgy fella who looked a bit like a shopkeeper in the mortal world.
However, do not be fooled by his obese appearance since he was very famous in the Barren Earth! He was the Heavenguard Sect Master with the title of Forheaven. He forcibly reached Virtuous Paragon during the Difficult Dao Era, causing his awe-inspiring prestige to echo far and wide.
Forheaven bowed towards Li Qiye and spoke with reverence: “May I ask for your name?”
“Emperor, Li Qiye!” Li Qiye emotionlessly spoke: “What is your purpose?”
“Protect the Emperor and guard the heaven’s prestige…” Forheaven quickly shouted and prostrated on the ground: “The sect did not greet Emperor’s return with the proper welcoming ceremony, this was my mistake.”
Li Qiye gently motioned with his hand and said: “There’s no need for the troublesome formalities of the past, we are not strangers.”
Forheaven stood up with great excitement. There was a legend in their sect stating that the mission of all future disciples was to wait for the Emperor’s return.
It was their purpose — to protect the Emperor and guard the heaven’s prestige! This creed had been passed down from generation to generation!
However, so many years had passed and the Emperor did not return. Although Immortal Emperor Zhen Yu and Immortal Emperor Mu Tian had news of the Emperor, he never came back.
The sect stayed hidden for many generations while awaiting their Emperor. Only with the presence of their Emperor could the Heavenguard truly be itself!
1. Zhen Yu is Hell Suppressing and Mu Tian is Heaven’s Shepherd. 2. This can be a bit confusing because it is two words in CN — 天子. I kept it as two instead of changing it to one because there were two universal laws forming two words. The second part is that this is not the traditional word or the common word that we use for “Emperor”. Strictly speaking, this is more of a historical/political/cultural usage of “Emperor”. It literally means Son of Heaven, which is what ancient kings were called in order to justify their claim to the throne. In terms of accuracy, I would use Son of Heaven rather than Emperor here, but Emperor fits the context better when translated into English with regards to the novel’s plot. 3. I do think the particular usage for Immortal Monarch sometimes in ED is not the cultivation title and is referring to a great deity, just like the Golden Immortal of the Great Firmament. This is a type of immortal in traditional daoist mythos — extremely powerful. Authors often used this as an expressive idiom; it has been used in ED before as well. This can lead to confusion in an English translation since it seems out of place in the beginning. Back to the Immortal Monarch’s case, yes, it could just be a general description of someone looking like a heavenly king. Just keep both possibilities in mind.