As a reminder to those of you who don't remember the origins of the Ascending Beauty Painting. It appeared in the Eastern Sea about five hundred years ago and thanks to it Long Shijie was about to accelerate his cultivation and become a half-deity, resulting in the destruction of the Sea Beast Sect and the creation of the Dragon God Palace, whose name he copied off one of the banners on one of the ships that he found the Ascending Beauty Painting on. Basically, the painting has been around longer than the Dragon God Palace for some unknown amount of time, it also has no relation to the Sea Beast Sect and after many years of searching Long Shijie never found anything related to the original Dragon God Palace.
Just one glance at the portrait that was floating in midair Zhang couldn’t help but feel a sense of familiarity. However, Zhang found himself unable to name the person drawn on the painting. Maybe, it was due to the lack of light shining upon the painting, or perhaps it was due to the distance, or maybe the artist who had drawn the painting did not accurately portray the person on the portrait or simply just because his mind could not make the right connections.
Endowed with delicate looking pink lips, charming eyes filled with wisdom, a perfect figure and a vibrant smile that could melt the hardest of glaciers, after a few more glances at the painting and Zhang’s brain would have definitely been able to connect all together.
However, Zhang was not given this opportunity because as soon as he was able to catch a glimpse of the portrait a group of roughly ten full saints and twenty lesser saints charged forward, obviously with intentions of obtaining the Ascending Beauty Painting.
“Hmph unless one of the high saints make a move, no one here is my match.” Zhang thought with a snort but did not to move, refocusing his attention onto the group of saints rushing toward the painting instead.
Be it for the fact that he felt some familiarity with the figure within the portrait or be it because of the unfathomable powers that he could be granted, Zhang had more than enough reasons to try to obtain the Ascending Beauty Painting. However, instead of fighting over it with everyone else, Zhang had come up with a better way to obtain the painting.
“I will claim this painting in the name of the Divine Wave Sect!” A full saint with dark bluish hair yelled as he surfed across the room atop a wave of water.
“No, the Ascending Beauty Painting will belong to the Celestial Mermaid Bay!” A young female full saint said as she sped through the air not too far behind the man with dark bluish hair.
“With that painting, it will only be a matter of time before I ascend to the pinnacle of power!” A lesser saint laughed manically as a strange looking bow appeared in his hands moments before two deadly looking arrows of light were released into the air.
“You are over teaching yourself, a mere lesser saint who thinks he can contend with full saints.” The man with dark bluish hair laughed as the water underneath his feet shot up into the air and created a protective film that shielded his back.
“Now now, to be fighting amongst ourselves at a time like this.” The master of the Divine Wave Sect said despite showing no intentions to intervene.
“Yes, now is not the time for internal conflicts… With an unknown number of severed souls that could still be lurking on this island we should settle things without violence.” Master Shan Jin said, despite also not lifting a finger to intervene.
It was obvious that all of the leaders of the various sects and forces present all wished to acquire the Ascending Beauty Painting, but they also did not want to cause open conflict due to the nature of the situation they were in.
Although they greedily wished to acquire the Ascending Beauty Painting for themselves, they were also afraid of the outward threat that the severed souls posed against them, so the leaders of the various factions were all forced to sit back and watch as their weaker subordinates fight against each other.
Watching the act that everyone was putting up and the intense struggle amongst the saints rushing toward the Ascending Beauty Painting, Zhang couldn’t help but inwardly chuckle.
“Regardless of how hard you all fight amongst yourselves that painting is mine.” Zhang muttered inwardly to himself while looking away from the brawl that had broken out and back toward the familiar looking person in the Ascending Beauty Painting with a confident look on his face and a swirl of essence in the palm of his hand bidding for the right time to act.
Struggling fiercely against each other, the thirty or so saints employed all of the skills and spells at their disposal causing ripples of essence to sweep across the chamber.
Radiating swords slashed about, crimson flames dances through the air, icy spears pierced through flesh and froze over blood, as the battle for Ascending Beauty Painting continued.
“The eyes look a little bit different, the hair is in a different style and there is an odd mature feeling given off when I look at that painting but when one looks past those minor differences, the person in the painting is undoubtedly her.” Yuying said as she glanced over at the other beauties before glancing back at the Ascending Beauty Painting.
“Although there is a striking resemblance I can’t help but say the eyes are totally different… While the one in the painting gives off an air of nobility that would deter most from approaching the one standing beside me gives off a friendly charm.” Ling thought as she glanced over at the other beauties, particularly one that was whistling in a carefree manner.
“I can’t believe I wasn’t able to make the connection… Well actually the eyes look totally different and also the general feel the artist tried to portray is way off.” Zhang thought after taking a good look at the floating painting and then looking back at his youngest looking most most silly wife, Ai.
“Before anything else I need to take that painting before anyone else notices their similarities.” Zhang thought. Luckily for the most part of the journey to Sea Beast Island, Ai and the other beauties had either stayed within their magical carriage or beside Zhang where they kept their distance away from everyone else, meaning there weren’t too many people besides Shan Li who had vivid images of their faces.
While trying to prevent others from seeing what he was up to Zhang wrapped his arms around Yuying and Lingqi’s waists, pulling him closer toward him before tearing a small hole in space and unleashing a powerful bolt of lightning into it.
With proper timing, Zhang was able to make it so that the lightning bolts that were released from his fingertips had crossed through the spatial rift just as the full saint with dark bluish hair from the Divine Wave Sect was about to place his hand onto the Ascending Beauty Painting.
Once the lightning bolt struck the bluish-haired saint, it began to travel throughout his body before connecting with the column of water underneath his feet causing a burst of steam to erupt and rob everyone of their sight.
In the following moments, Zhang quickly tapped the Ascending Beauty Painting and stored it away into his interspatial ring, closed the spatial rift and then pretended to act like everyone else in the audience.
What Zhang didn’t notice was that the moment just before he had stored the painting in to his interspatial ring, it had begun to faintly glow.
“I got it.” Zhang said to his wives through his divine sense.
“Where’s the Ascending Beauty Painting!” Someone screamed as the curtain of steam slowly dispersed.
Much to everyone’s amazement, well besides Zhang and his wives, the floating painting that they were all wanted to obtain had disappeared into thin air.
“Which one of you guys have it? Just admit it and stop wasting my time, I’ve had enough for this charade.” Zhang said in a loud and audible tone.
“What a bore, one of them managed to get the painting and now they’re playing dumb so they can keep it.” Yuying said as she gazed at the thirty odd saints with a look of contempt.
“Which one of you has the painting?” Master Yu Xui asked, inwardly agreeing with what Yuying had said.
Before long a storm of speculation, doubt and suspicion were cast upon the thirty saints who had fought over the Ascending Beauty Painting. In the end, everyone was only looking after their own self-interests so it wasn’t out of the question that one of the thirty would try to hide and keep something as mystifying as the Ascending Beauty Painting to themselves.
“Unless the painting that we all saw was but a mere illusion. It’s obvious that the painting is sitting in one of your interspatial rings, no need to keep wasting our time.” Lingqi said, subliminally planting ideas into everyone’s minds.
“My lord please believe me, although I was the closest one to the painting it is not in my possession. If you want, I’ll prove it to you by unbinding my interspatial ring and letting you comb through its contents.” The full saint with darkish blue hair said, eager to prove his innocence after hearing Lingqi’s words.
“Mistress I’ll prove my innocence by handing over my interspatial ring also.” The female full saint from the Celestial Mermaid Bay said as she slid an orange colored interspatial ring off from her finger and presented it for inspection.
Following the example of the female full saint and the blue haired full saint, the remaining twenty-eight saints also took out their interspatial rings and handed them to their superiors over after unbinding them.
One by one the contents of the interspatial rings were dumped onto the ground for all to see, and one by one the saints were cleared of suspicion. But as the number of interspatial rings inspected rose and the number of saints whose innocence was restored, a certain sense of anticipation overcame the leaders of the various forces.
As if they were certain that one of the thirty interspatial rings held the legendary artifact that allowed Long Shijie to rise to power, all of the masters and mistresses of the Eastern Sea watched on while counting down the number of interspatial rings left to be inspected.
“There’s only two ring’s left, I wonder which one the painting will be in.” Ai said with a soft giggle.
“One of these two rings definitely holds the Ascending Beauty Painting.” The master of the Divine Wave Sect said, causing the two remaining saints, who had yet to have their interspatial rings inspect, to have an immense pressure applied onto their shoulders.
Although they were certain that they did not ever even lay hands on the painting, the mere fact of being placed under suspension was enough to cause some to fear for their lives. Once a seed of doubt is planted it is nearly impossible to completely eradicate it and once this seed blooms death quickly approaches.
“It-it was definitely not me.” A lesser saint with an odd-looking shark tattoo said in a timid tone as he presented his interspatial ring for inspection.
Feeling as if a mountain was pressing down on him, the lesser saint breathed in heavily as a white colored interspatial ring was taken from his palm and its contents were dumped onto the ground.
“A few essence stones, a couple mid-grade herbs, and a few lesser saint tier weapons…” Master Shan Jin said before tossing the white interspatial ring back to its owner.
“Then you have the painting.” Yuying said as she pointed to the holder of the last uninspected interspatial ring, a bald full saint whose face was covered in sweat.
“No-no-no! I wouldn’t dare to do such a thing! Ple-please believe me!” The bald full saint cried as he took the initiative to crumble his interspatial ring to bits, spilling its contents onto the floor.
“If none of them have it, then does that mean the painting we saw on the altar was a mere illusion?” Zhang asked.
“It must have been unless it sprouted legs and walked away amidst the confusion… Let’s stop wasting our time and go look for Long Shijie’s inheritance…” Lingqi said with a yawn.
“Hmph… What useless waste of time… If the lot of you still want a share of Long Shijie’s inheritance, then stop wasting time here.” Lord Long Zhiming said while flinging his sleeves and walking away with his entourage impatiently.
“Let’s go also.” Zhang said, following behind Lord Long Zhiming with his wives by his side, leaving before anyone could further pursue matters regarding the Ascending Beauty Painting.
Believing they were doped by a mere illusion, the rest of the group soon pushed aside all of the thoughts they had about the Ascending Beauty Painting and thus quickened their pace to caught up with Zhang and Lord Long Zhiming.
Strangely enough as Zhang followed behind Lord Long Zhiming’s entourage it appeared as if they knew where they were going. Unlike everyone else who was lost within the vastness of the chamber, Lord Long Zhiming and his subordinates walked forward with resolute steps, steps the belonged to people who know where their destination laid and how to get there.
“Master Shan Jin, Master Yu Xui, do you find it odd that the people from the Dragon God Palace appear to know the layout of this place? Isn’t this supposed to be the first time anyone has set foot in hundreds of years?” Zhang asked through his divine sense.
“Now that you mention it, it is kind of odd… But there is nothing we can do but tell our men to stay on guard for now.” Master Shan Jin replied.
“If you spot anything out of the ordinary don’t be afraid to speak to me.” Master Yu Xui said before Zhang cut off communications.