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Qi Ling-er nodded. "That's right. The ability of moving through space is modeled after the God Monarch's ability of instantaneous movement. It allows one to traverse millions of li instantly without any restraints. However, the Teleportation Formation is a facility that only the city lord and nobles are allowed to use. It's completely off limits to ordinary cultivators."

"It's something that only the city lord is able to use?" Zhang Xuan frowned.

If that was really the case, the restrictions to use the Teleportation Formation would really be tight. It was no wonder most ordinary cultivators had not heard of it before.

"That's right. Rather than to phrase it as a special privilege, it's more like a condition to protect those who are being teleported. As you might have heard, the Firmament stands at the top of the myriad worlds, so the spatial laws governing the Firmament are exceptionally powerful. Even Conferred God Kings have trouble trying to overcome them. For this reason, using the Teleportation Formation can create major spatial turbulence that poses great risk to the ones using it. Those who aren't powerful enough will swiftly be torn to shreds," Qi Ling-er explained.

"The City Lord Token that each city lord has contains the Anima of Yearning of the entire city, allowing him to remain impervious to the dangers of the spatial turbulence."

"Anima of Yearning?" Zhang Xuan repeated contemplatively.

That was the second time he had heard this term.

"The act of obeying the laws set by the city lord is a symbol of subservience to the city lord. If something happens to the city lord, the entire city will descend into chaos, resulting in hardship for the populace. So, the desire for peace and stability contributes to the Anima of Yearning within the City Lord Token, protecting their wishes. It's for this reason that the newly ascended Heaven Subjugation Monarch is intent on acquiring the recognition of the Nine God Monarchs. This is because the recognition of the Nine God Monarchs represents the acknowledgement of all life forms within their jurisdiction, thus allowing him to gather more Anima of Yearning," Qi Ling-er explained.

Hearing those words, Zhang Xuan nodded in realization.

It would appear that the so-called Anima of Yearning was an extremely powerful and important force in the Firmament.

He was convinced that the Heaven Subjugation Monarch was Kong shi, and based on what he knew about the World's Teacher, the latter was a person who was devoted to the betterment of the world. In contrast, the latter viewed fame and honor with little importance.

So, the very act of him forcing the Nine God Monarchs to acknowledge him was out of character, and it had left Zhang Xuan perplexed for quite some time.

However, it seemed like this was the reason behind it.

The very act of recognition from others would allow him to obtain the Anima of Yearning, allowing him to further his goals.


"So, if I wish to head to Royal City or anywhere else within the Firmament without any impediment, I need to acquire the identity of a city lord?" Zhang Xuan asked.

"That's right," Qi Ling-er replied with a smile.

"That's simple. I'll head to the City Lord Manor right now with Little Jia to slit Wu Fangqing's throat," Sun Qiang said.

Funnily enough, after the first quarrel they had with one another, Sun Qiang and the Phosphor Armored Beast had swiftly gotten closer with one another, and they had become gossiping buddies.

Even if Wu Fangqing had a low-tier Celestial God artifact, he would still have trouble trying to deal with the Phosphor Armored Beast.

But in response to Sun Qiang's proposal, Zhang Xuan shook his head and rejected it.

Wu Fangqing had not done anything to him, so it was not right for him to kill the other party just to claim his position.

"There's no need to go that far. Even though the Firmament seems to be quite peaceful on the surface, there are actually battles going on everywhere. There are quite a few cities that are without a city lord at the moment," Qi Linger replied.

"Putting everything aside, I am actually a city lord as well. The territory I rule pales much in comparison to Twilight City, but still, the Anima of Yearning I receive in my City Lord Token is enough for me to use the Teleportation Formation."

Hearing those words, Zhang Xuan's eyes lit up in excitement.

It appeared that there were many ways to circumvent the rules in the Firmament. It was a huge relief to hear that he did not need to resort to violence in order to acquire a City Lord Token.

Just for the privilege of using the Teleportation Token, it was definitely worth the hassle for him to become a city lord.

It was not as if he had not had his fair share of notable positions on his way here, be it a principal, a clan head, or a sect leader... Taking on another city lord position should not be a problem at all!

So, he turned to Qi Ling-er and asked, "Are there any cities nearby that are without a city lord at the moment?"

"Dusklight City, which is around a day's journey away from here, doesn't have a city lord yet. The local powers have been fighting for the spot for the past half a year, but no one has been able to gain a decisive advantage over the others so far," Qi Ling-er said with a smile.

Her information network as the underground black market boss was still rather impressive.

"However, that city is much larger than Twilight City, governing three provinces. The strongest expert there has also reached middle-tier Celestial God. If even an expert of that caliber hasn't managed to become the city lord yet, the difficulty in trying to do so is bound to be very high."

"There are three provinces under Dusklight City? Do those province lords have tokens that would allow them to use the Teleportation Formation?" Zhang Xuan asked.

"Of course! Young Master Zhang, it is in view of your circumstances that I am recommending Dusklight City!" Qi Linger replied.

She knew that Zhang Xuan would likely want to take the three people beside him around, and it was for that reason that he was recommending Dusklight City.

Otherwise, she could have just recommended any minor city. There was no need to go for a place that was as difficult as Dusklight City.

"That's perfect. If there aren't any other issues, let's set off right away," Zhang Xuan said.

"Ah, pardon me, Young Master Zhang, but I need to make some preparations first. Why don't we leave here in four hours?" Qi Ling-er said.

Zhang Xuan nodded in response.

Qi Ling-er was extremely efficient in her work. Even though she asked for four hours, she was already back in the courtyard within three. Furthermore, she brought several massive aerial divine beasts along for everyone to ride on.

Stepping onto the back of the divine beasts, they swiftly made their way toward Dusklight City.

"They have left?"

Hearing that Zhang Xuan had left, Wu Fangqing's face crumbled in disappointment. He had hoped to forge close ties with Zhang Xuan over the next few days to get something good in return.

He did not think that the latter would leave so quickly.

"City Lord Wu, Young Master Zhang told me to pass this to you as a gift in return for all your help," Ying Fei said.

"Is that so?" Wu Fangqing remarked with a perplexed frown as he received the jade token that Ying Fei was passing him.

He placed his finger on it and infused his divine energy in, and the next moment, his eyes widened in astonishment.

"T-this …"

Recorded in the jade token were all the flaws in his cultivation, as well as the ways to resolve them. As long as he cultivated according to what was written there, he would be able to resolve the traumas in his cultivation and possibly achieve a breakthrough to high-tier Celestial God in the future!

"But how did he know?" Wu Fangqing was stunned.

It had only been a day since he met Zhang Xuan, and he had never mentioned anything relating to his cultivation or the sort before. Furthermore, the content on the jade token contained many things that he had neglected as well.

Just how did the young man manage to see through all that and even formulate ways to resolve the issues?

A long time later, Wu Fangqing shook his head and remarked with a deep sigh, "It's not without reason that he possesses the bloodline of a God Monarch!"

Perhaps it was meaningless to try to apply common sense to someone who had already transcended his comprehension. It was arrogance in itself to claim to understand the powers of the God Monarchs.

Zhang Xuan's departure did not cause any visible changes to Twilight City.

After all, he had been keeping a low profile ever since he arrived there, so there were not too many people who knew him.

After flying for roughly a day, a massive city finally appeared before Zhang Xuan's sight.

In terms of width, it was three to four times larger than that of Twilight City. On the streets between tall buildings, there were many people milling about.

From the moment the divine beast landed on the ground and the group entered the city, Zhang Xuan could not help but frown at just how packed the streets were. It was as if he was trying to squeeze through a horde of locusts.

Seeing right through Zhang Xuan's thoughts, Qi Ling-er explained, "Ever since the receding of the spiritual energy, the area of habitable locations in the Firmament has decreased rapidly, forcing most people to move into cities. As a result, it has led to overpopulation. Any man who has a house of forty square meters here can already be considered rich and will have many girls leaping at him."

Zhang Xuan nodded in response.

This was rather similar to the capitals in his previous world. Most people were frantic to squeeze into where the heart of the economy was, resulting in a scarily high population density. Houses had to be built higher and higher in order to keep up with the demand. At the same time, the prices of housing shot up insanely, reaching a level that was unaffordable for ordinary people.

That was the same for the Firmament. It was simply impossible to make a living outside of cities anymore, so everyone could only enter cities and hope for the best.

"Where do we go to compete for the seat of the city lord?" Zhang Xuan asked.

"It isn't due to the lack of eligible candidates that the Dusklight City hasn't been able to decide on a city lord thus far. Rather, it is due to the intense opposition coming from the political rivalry among different factions," Qi Ling-er explained.

"All in all, there are three strong contenders for the city lord position. They are namely a scion that specializes in saber arts, Lin Xie; an unaffiliated cultivator who specializes in swordsmanship, Wu Yang; and a young lady who goes by the name of Ming Laixiang. The former two are middle-tier Celestial Gods, and both possess exceptional fighting prowess. The last one, Ming Laixiang, is only a low-tier Celestial God, but it would be foolish to underestimate her due to her lower cultivation. According to the rumors, she's the most fearsome of the three!"

"Ming Laixiang..." Zhang Xuan jotted down that person's name mentally.

To be able to become a contender for such a massive city, there was no way this Ming Laixiang would be an ordinary person.

"There aren't any complicated procedures that you have to go through in order to become a city lord. Technically speaking, all you have to do is defeat the three of them and make them acknowledge you from the bottom of their hearts, and the city lord position will be yours to take," Qi Ling-er said.

"So, Young Master Zhang, who should we challenge first?"

In the past, one would have to clear a whole string of administrative processes and receive the approval of the Netherworld Hall before one could run as a contender to become a city lord, which effectively meant that one would have to make an application several months in advance.

However, the receding of spiritual energy had resulted in a major change in the state of affairs in the Firmament. It was inevitable that processes had to undergo a paradigm shift in order to cater to the needs of the changing environment.

The current era was an era of scarcity, which made it inevitable that people would have to compete over the limited resources. In the cities, where most of the people and resources were concentrated, there was bound to be significant infighting and chaos.

As such, it was imperative that the city lord possessed absolute strength in order to enforce order and security. Only a person who could keep everyone within the city under their rule was qualified to receive the mandate of the Sky of Drifting Specters.

Zhang Xuan pondered for a brief moment before asking, "Before that, do you know where I can get some middle-tier God Essence Pills? I'll need to gather some before challenging them."

"Middle-tier God Essence Pills?" Qi Ling-er did not think that Zhang Xuan would suddenly request for this. She pointed to a massive building in the distance and said, "It should be possible to get some in that market over there, but I'm not sure if they will sell any to you without any connections. As you know, the God Essence Pills are highly sought after resources... Wait a minute, I think I know a place where we can procure them in high quantities, but it might not be easy to negotiate with that person..."

"Oh?" Zhang Xuan looked at her. "Tell me more."

"He's an unaffiliated cultivator in Dusklight City, and if I'm not wrong, he seems to be in his sixties. His cultivation isn't too high, being only a high-tier God, but he specializes in pill forging. It's just that he usually keeps the pills he forges for his own consumption. At the same time, he's also a dedicated chess fan. He looks for people to play with him every day, and it's rumored that his skills are excellent. He once declared that he would give a middle-tier God Essence pill to anyone who is able to beat him once. But even after so many years, no one has succeeded," Qi Ling-er said.

"If his cultivation isn't too high, hasn't anyone thought of stealing from him before?" Zhang Xuan asked with a frown.

In the first place, it was weird that a high-tier God was in possession of a middle-tier God Essence Pill. Was he not afraid that someone would attempt to steal from him?

In the other cities, perhaps the cultivators might still hold back a little out of fear of crossing their city lord, but Dusklight City was a place that did not have a city lord at the moment. As such, it was not too hard to imagine that the rules would be all over the place.

"Even though his cultivation is weak, he has a particularly formidable younger brother. According to the rumors, his younger brother is a God King in Royal City, and his younger brother has given him a jade token to protect him in times of danger. There were two low-tier Celestial Gods who once attempted to assassinate him to claim his fortune for themselves, but they ended up dying from the aura emanated by the jade token. Ever since then, no one has dared make a move on him," Qi Ling-er explained.

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