A Martial Odyssey Book 3: The Stellar Sanctuary – Chapter 9

Uneasy Truce

A sizable group of practitioners had gathered around a small bonfire that was lit in the middle of the winding passage.

The atmosphere was tense and they were all looking uneasy at each other. 

“I…lie to you, I…lie about the Celestial Realm, I…lie about the Immortal Realm to all of you when we have first met in the Astronomic Stellar Formation…a dying person won’t care much about their future attainment anymore, don’t you agree too?”

“But I knew it…” 

A delicate heavenly maiden with three pink petals on her forehead was looking melancholy at Yi Ping. She appeared to be hesitating as she held her golden and green silken robe tightly around her…

This heavenly maiden that broke the deadly silence was the Goddess Celestial Alice who was also the Eternal Goddess of the Goddess Theocracy. 

She was impossibly forbidden to behold and her presence was equally intimidating. 

But Yi Ping was able to hold his gaze as he looked gently at her, “Maiden Ziyan…”

The Goddess Celestial Alice said quietly, “Celestial Alice. That is my name.”

Yi Ping muttered softly, “Maiden Alice…”

She whispered softly as she looked at the mark on his forehead, “I knew it…that you are the Dark Cosmos Lord…”

Another forbidden heavenly maiden met the gaze of the Goddess Celestial Alice defiantly as she said coldly, “I know it better than you do. I know it no matter how much he has changed. Why can’t you let him off? Have you forgotten that you are the one that had murdered him?”

This forbidden heavenly maiden was the Goddess Isa!

The Goddess Celestial Alice sighed softly as she looked intently at Yi Ping, “No, I didn’t. I did try to stop him. I couldn’t stop him…”

She lowered her gaze as she looked blankly for a while, “If I did manage to stop him then why do you think that I would be in the Astronomic Stellar Formation?”

When Yi Ping had remembered that Maiden Ziyan had tried to end her life, his emotions became distressed and a sharp pain could be felt in his heart as he asked. “Maiden Alice, why did you try to end your life that time?”

Yu’Er, Mei’Er, Ye Yin and everyone that was in the Astronomic Stellar Formation that time were all curious as well as they exchanged curious looks with one another!

Yu’Er, Mei’Er and Ye Yin who could sense the empathy of others far better than others were still not able to read the thoughts of the Goddess Celestial Alice. 

The Goddess Celestial Alice remained unfathomable to them!

The Goddess Aiel was clearly shocked as she gasped, “The Eternal Goddess will actually try to end her life?”

Even the Goddess of Mercy was also shocked!

The Goddess Isa hummed coldly but from her startled expressions there were no denying that she was also shocked!

The Goddess Celestial Alice sighed softly, “I have thought that would be my ended destiny.”

She lifted her eyes to look at Yi Ping, “When I saw the Celestial Alice that is with you, I knew that he was no longer alive anymore. That is because he has made a promise to me that once he has accomplished what he is destined for, he will surely come to free me from the Astronomic Stellar Formation. I have been waiting for him for thousands of years for him to return. When I know that he is no longer around, I have also lost my will to live…”

When Yi Ping had heard her, it was as though his heart had just been struck by a thunderbolt!

Han Lin, Lady Winter Plum, Yu’Er, Mei’Er and Jing’Er covered their mouths as their eyes watered. Maybe it was because they were more sentimental than the others.

But the other maidens, the Universal Old Man and Old Venerable Vanquishing Sage were also trying hard to suppress their emotions!

Was that what the mortals called undying love? 

To be together unto death? 

Yi Ping clenched his fists tightly as he began to tremble. Finally he interrupted her, “…is that why you want to end your life…”

The Goddess Celestial Alice nodded slowly as she said, “By now, surely you have figured out my past. I don’t wish to lie to you anymore…”

The Goddess Isa could not resist adding, “To think that the Eternal Goddess would be capable of lying!”

The Goddess Celestial Alice smiled weakly, “At that time, I didn’t think of trying to further my practice anymore. I am…thinking of leaving a beautiful memory for myself.”

The Goddess Isa whispered hesitatingly, “Then what changes your mind?”

The Goddess Celestial Alice answered melancholy, “I am so close to losing my life then. Only when Yi Ping had grabbed my hand back then, only then did I realize that he is the reincarnation of the person that I have always been waiting for. But then it appeared to be too late for me…”

She closed her eyes as she recalled that fateful moment, “I was given a lending hand by my two Golden Kirins…”

The golden Kirin cub began to leap around the Goddess Celestial Alice!

Yunzi immediately said, “This…little Kirin belongs to you?”

The Goddess Celestial Alice patted the head of the golden Kirin cub as she smiled gently, “That is right. His name is Xiao Ping!”

The Goddess of Mercy almost choked when she had heard that and there were some giggles around Yi Ping!

Yi Ping was so startled to learn of the golden Kirin cub’s name was the same as his that he turned flustered!

The Goddess Celestial Alice chuckled softly when she had seen Yi Ping’s expression before she became solemn all of a sudden, “At that time I have thought that I was a goner. It was because I am in no condition to undertake my heavenly tribulation. But all of a sudden I have found the will to live again…”

The Goddess Isa and the Goddess of Mercy were examining her with startled expressions.

The Goddess Isa interrupted cautiously, “You have really overcome your heavenly tribulation? You have really advanced to the Seventh Cosmos Position?”

She was asking the obvious; she had heard previously that the Goddess Celestial Alice had already reached the forbidden level of the Seventh Cosmos Position but she wanted to hear it from her own ears. 

The Goddess of Mercy took a glance at Yi Ping as she muttered, “Only the Dark Lord of the Chaos Cosmos has ever attained past the Greater Cosmos Positioning to the mystical Seventh Cosmos Positioning. Not even the Jade Emperor and the other thirty-three sovereign lords are able to accomplish this feat…”

The Goddess Celestial Alice lifted her eyes to look at them, “And I am the second now.”

The Goddess Isa and the Goddess of Mercy were naturally not too happy to learn of it. It was because they both at the Greater Cosmos Positioning, the same as the Goddess Celestial Alice previously. But now she had actually elevated to a higher state of divinity than them so they were naturally displeased.

The Goddess of Mercy replied sarcastically, “Not for long, I am sure!”

Everyone else was smiling weakly at their squabbles. It was because they could see that the Goddess Celestial Alice, the Goddess Isa and the Goddess of Mercy were all extremely pale; their injuries were not light at all and they had literally just pulled themselves from the verges of death. If they were not practitioners of the Greater Cosmos Positioning and above which gave them a state that was similar to the Indestructible Body then the earlier battle would have shattered their bones! 

Yi Ping was sighing softly as he said gently to the Goddess of Mercy, “Maiden Gusu…”

The lips of the Goddess of Mercy seemed to move a little but Yi Ping had already realized what she had wanted to say so he quickly said, “…Maiden Xiang’Er, you ought to take care of yourself and not be moved by negative emotions. Alright?”

The Goddess of Mercy immediately nodded submissively! 

The Goddess of Isa was about to say something too when Yi Ping said gently to her, “Isa, do you think you can calm down too? Maybe we can hear Maiden Alice out first?”

The Goddess Celestial Alice looked shyly at Yi Ping; the flushes on her face were no mistaking to everyone!

She asked coyly, “Will you like to know why I am here or will you like to know about the Stellar Sanctuary? Or me?”

The last words of the Goddess Celestial Alice caught Yi Ping completely by surprise as he smiled weakly to consider.

The Heaveness Lingfeng coughed softly all of a sudden as she stared briefly at Yi Ping before saying, “Oh excuse me!”

She was not the only one who seemed displeased; Ye Yin and Shen Xingyue who were listening intently were displaying gloomy expressions on their beautiful faces!

The Universal Old Man was clearly in awe of the Goddess Celestial Alice as he stammered, “Or the Immortal Practice…”

Even Old Reverend Vanquishing Sage seemed to have put aside his rivalry with the Universal Old Man as he stammered out, “Yes…”

The Goddess Celestial Alice replied coolly, “It is forbidden to reveal Heaven’s secrets to those that are not predestined. Even if I reveal it to you, your future attainments may well suffer.”

Almost immediately, the Universal Old Man, Old Reverend Vanquishing Sage, Youxue, Ye Yin, Lie Qing and Han Lin had a disappointing look on their face!

But the Goddess Celestial Alice smiled as she said unhurriedly, “Do not despair. I may not reveal the exact Divine Practice to you until you have awakened your Heaven Eyes or until you have reached the Immortal Realm but I can reveal to you the names of the divine stages.”

All of a sudden, everyone was muttering excitingly! 

It was because the insight of the names of the divine stages was itself a great clue therefore it did not escape their notice!

Yi Ping was also mindful of the two phrases that were used by the Goddess Celestial Alice, the ‘Heaven Eyes’ and ‘until you have reached the Immortal Realm’. 

He thought, “Is that a clue that we have to either awaken our Heaven Eyes or to reach the Immortal Realm before everything can be revealed to us?”

At the same time he had noticed that Yunzi, Ye Yin, Lie Qing and Yang Min were all looking at him; it was as though they seemed to be saying to him, “Yi Ping, did you hear that?”

The Universal Old Man grumbled, “It seems that the Goddess Celestial Alice is more magnanimous than the Goddess Isa and the Goddess of Mercy who seem reluctant to share anything…” 

The Goddess Isa lifted her eyes to stare at the Universal Old Man before she interrupted coldly, “If you just want the names of the divine stages, why didn’t you ask earlier?”

The Goddess of Mercy hummed coldly as well, “Some people may have mouths on their face but they don’t know how to use it other than eating and drinking. Some things are right in front of them but they can’t see it. Even if the methods and intricate heart formulas of the Divine Practice are known to them, they can’t see it.”

The Universal Old Man smiled weakly, “There is no need to be so upset. It is just a casual remark…”

Lingfeng hummed coldly, “One of these days, your casual remarks will cause your downfall.”

Yi Ping said quietly out of the blue, “In the past, the sages have given the people wise counsel on how to become one with the heavens and the earth but it seem that only a few are willing to listen.”

All the maidens were looking at Yi Ping now. It was because they could see that he was very different now. That different was particular obvious from the moment he had awakened as the White Sage in the Stellar Sanctuary!

That did not escape the notice of the Goddess Celestial Alice because her next question to him was to ask, “You seem to be different now. Very different.”

Yi Ping smiled weakly as he continued to listen…

The Goddess Celestial Alice said, “And I don’t mean just because you have awakened your Heaven Eyes, you are different now. You seem to be…”

She paused briefly to look at everyone, “….seem to be wiser now and not dense anymore!”

Lingfeng laughed softly as she teased Yi Ping, “He is also a martial prodigy!”

Shen Xingyue broke into a smile, “I have never heard of any practitioner that can advance as quickly as him either!”

Yixian nodded as she said gently, “Martial advancement and cultivation attainment are hard to progress at the same time. It requires a delicate balance.”

Youxue nodded. Her martial advances were phenomenal but the same could not be said for her cultivation attainment which had hit a wall! 

Even though Yi Ping’s martial skills were weaker than her, he had advanced now to a point that he was now one of the most powerful celestial fighters in the Celestial Realm in a relative short time! At the same time, Yi Ping had awakened his Heaven Eyes and his state of divinity had breech one boundary after another!

Therefore if Yi Ping was not a prodigy, what was he?

The Goddess Aiel also chipped in, “However I am different, I wish that he will be dense…”

She looked shyly at all the other maidens before adding, “Then he won’t have so any troubles!”

Yu’Er, Mei’Er and Jing’Er chuckled softly!

Mei’Er said playfully, “I for one prefer the dense Master Yi Ping!”

Yu’Er laughed jovially, “Same here!”

It was because Yu’Er and Mei’Er had shared many adventures with Yi Ping and none at all with the White Sage! 

Yi Ping began to rub his nose as he gave a long sigh, “Maybe…”

The Goddess Celestial Alice smiled gently before she said, “You seem a little trouble. Maybe I can resolve it for you?”

Yi Ping was startled, “You can?”

The Goddess Celestial Alice nodded, “You must be thinking why sometimes you seem to have flashbacks of another person and you have felt you are that person in the flashback because everything is so vivid. But at the same time you can’t remember anything else, am I right?”

Yi Ping was taken aback, “You know?”

He raised his trembling fingers as though he wanted to say something but he began to hesitate…

The Goddess Celestial Alice replied coolly, “You are you and not anyone so you don’t have to bother with your past lives. I can tell you as a matter of fact that it is nearly impossible for anyone to have all the memories of their past lives. That is rule number one. Rule number two; it is possible to experience flashbacks of your past reincarnations only if you can still remember the intense emotions that you have felt back then. Rule number three, most people are incapable of visualizing a mental picture of their intense emotions. Only a few highly attained practitioners are capable of it and you are one of them.”

All of a sudden Yi Ping became enlightened as he gasped, “I have got it!”

The intense emotions that he had felt for these maidens previously had caused him to have these flashbacks! 

That only mean one thing; the White Sage and the Dark Chaos Lord must have felt intense emotions for these maidens at that time!

A feeling of intense regret, immerse remorse and an overwhelming helplessness to change circumstances!

His thoughts were interrupted by the Goddess Celestial Alice as she asked softly, “You have really got it?”

Yi Ping nodded with beaming eyes, “No wonder, there is a saying that a marriage is preordained for three lives…”

But he quickly kept quiet because he had noticed that all the other maidens were suddenly looking at him.

The Goddess Celestial Alice grasped her right shoulder painfully as she said weakly, “Really?…”

All of a sudden she smiled weakly as she looked at the Goddess Isa, “So all these years we have been fighting futilely?” 

The Goddess Isa asked coldly, “What do you mean?”

The Goddess Celestial Alice looked at all the other maidens slowly, “Surely you are not blinded to the obvious?”

The Goddess Isa began to give a melancholy sigh as she laughed coldly, “Maybe you are right. I have always thought that we are the one and only couple but he had passed on now. In the end, he belongs to no one. Isn’t it an irony that his present incarnation seems to belong to everyone?”

The Goddess of Mercy interrupted weakly, “That is your business and none of my business. I don’t care if he has already many other consorts. I intend to keep my pledge for him!”

The Goddess Isa muttered, “You…”

The Goddess of Mercy said matter of fact, “If you can’t put your past aside then there will be no future for you.”

The Goddess Isa took a glance at Alice…

Yi Ping asked of a sudden, “Maiden Alice, why are you here? I mean in this place?”

The Goddess Celestial Alice looked a little disappointed, “So that is your first question? Fine, I will answer it.”

The Universal Old Man and Old Reverend Vanquishing Sage were also disappointed. It was because they were eager to learn more about the names of the various divine stages of the Immortal Practice than other matters.

But Yi Ping was in no hurry. 

The Goddess Celestial Alice smiled wryly, “I don’t know how you found this place but for me, it had taken me quite a while to find the entrance. Naturally the entrance that you have found may not be the same entrance as I have found. I was after the Universal Harmonic Chain. I have successfully divined that it is near the vicinity. Alas…”

She took a glance at Lele who quickly displayed an innocuous expression, “But alas, all my efforts are in vain. But I am not wrong about you. You have indeed shown yourself to have the potential to be an immortal practitioner.”

Lele could not hide her delightful expression when she had heard that, “Oh really? I must be someone special!” 

Lie Qing immediately coughed weakly while Ye Yin the Ascension Goddess raised her eyebrows. 

Yi Ping asked, “This Universal Harmonic Chain, is important?”

The Goddess Celestial Alice nodded, “There must be a reason why the Universal Harmonic Chain is being drawn into the Stellar Sanctuary. As you can see, even the Stellar Sanctuary protects this immortal artefact by warding it in the Esper Formation. When you have arrived, I have managed to disable the Esper Formation and on the verge of seizing the Universal Harmonic Chain…”

She took a look at the Goddess Isa, “But the sudden arrival of your group has once again triggered the Esper Formation…”

The Goddess Isa was flustered as she lowered her gaze, “I am sorry, everyone…”

It was because she had almost killed everyone with her rash actions!

When the Esper Formation was re-activated, twelve hovering energy orbs sprang up from its epicenter and began to rain blue beaming energy bolts in all directions!

The Goddess Celestial Alice, the Goddess Isa and Yi Ping were the hardest hit because they were the closest to the epicenter! 

The Goddess Celestial Alice looked at Yi Ping intently, “Why didn’t you evade the energy attacks?”

In a few blinks of an eye, she had witnessed Yi Ping raising his divine swords as he parried dozens of energy attacks!

That was almost an impossible feat because the high energy projectile was extremely violent and powerful but Yi Ping had endured until right to the very end when the Esper Formation had ended!

At that time she really did not think that Yi Ping would survive without any protection! 

Yi Ping said, “If I were to evade then more of the energy projectiles would hit my companions behind me. I really don’t want anyone to come to harm or to lose anyone here.”

It was impossible for Yi Ping to block all the energy projectiles that were created by the twelve hovering energy spheres but he did his best to block all the direct energy projectiles! 

It was the first time that everyone had experienced the Esper Formation and because it also just ended as quickly as it was activated quickly, no one other than the Goddess Celestial Alice and the Goddess Isa could really understand the agonizing sacrifice that what Yi Ping had done for everyone!

The Goddess Celestial Alice and the Goddess Isa had experienced the full impact of the Esper Formation and had gone under but Yi Ping had clearly persisted by not evading any of the energy projectiles! 

The Goddess Celestial Alice muttered softly, “You may not be the original Dark Chaos Lord but your endurance and strength have clearly surpassed him!”

Even the Goddess Isa was nodding. It was because she had found it hard to believe also!

The Goddess Celestial Alice asked, “Can I feel your pulse?”

The Goddess Isa asked at the same time, “May I too as well?”

Yi Ping smiled weakly as he extended his hand forward, “I can’t be compared to the Dark Chaos Lord…”

But no sooner had Yi Ping extended his hands to both of them, the Goddess Celestial Alice and the Goddess Isa were gasping at the same time!

The Goddess Celestial Alice gasped out shockingly, “Who are you?!”

The Goddess Isa was trembling as she took a step back, “You…”

The Goddess of Mercy was intrigued so she took the pulse of Yi Ping and she too, reacted shockingly, “Impossible…you…”

Yi Ping was startled by their reactions…