Zhao Ge Chapter 171-180

Chapter 171

Chapter split into several pages again because sanity.

Chapter One Hundred Seventy-one, Scroll of Mountains and Rivers, the Cycle does not Rest. (⼭河图卷, 轮回不休)
Qing Ming tower.

The tower was ninety-nine stories high, guarded by both the sects and dynasties’ people together. However, the main centre of the Qing Ming tower’s operation was typically firmly guarded by the sects, and the dynasties’ people could only undertake some matters that were regarded as “trifling tasks” in the eyes of the immortal sects.

Like registering rosters, this kind of miscellaneous task.

However, just like how no one thought that insignificant ants were actually able to wreck a river bank extending thousands of miles, the people of the sect would not have thought, there would come a day these “trifling tasks” would manifest into a terrifying power.

The tower-guarding immortal cultivators felt it was beneath them to check just what kind of people were aboard the constantly coming and going flying vessels each and every day, they just controlled the Qing Ming tower’s central operations, like the country was in their hands.

The flying vessels flying from Jin Tang, from Cang Pu, and various places passing here would be registered in the books, and within the seemingly-normal roster, were many, many people who concealed their identities, coming in a hurry, going off in a hurry.

“This is precisely the immortal cultivators’ arrogance.”

The prefectural executive slowly went up along the black stone staircase.

In the merchant city under the control of the Nine Provinces Private Bank, the dynasty’s executive was always like a nominal existence. Normally, the executive that came from the capital would always be full of smiles, bowing his body, being very courteous and polite to the Nine Provinces Private Bank, with a look of a good-for-nothing idly going about their days.

And yet today, this executive that regular folks in the city complain about how he was incapable, that the merchants backing the Private Bank did not look up to, that Nine Provinces Private Bank’s disciples would ignore, wore the official clothes of Qi Qin dynasty embroidered with twelve emblems, and stood up straight.

The executive that was only a scholar in the eyes of the Nine Provinces Private Bank stepped on the thick blood and walked without a change in expression.

His hands held a long sword put in its sheath.

“Because immortal cultivators grasped an extraordinary power different from the rest, they would be lofty and superior as a result, and in the knowledge of immortal cultivators, power is rank.”
The refined executive pulled the long sword out from its sheath. “This arrogance has blinded your eyes. Within the immortal
cultivators’ knowledge, you guys probably never thought, other than immortal cultivation, what other powers could influence the times.”

The cold, frosty light on the longsword was like a cold moon. “Your arrogance has blinded your eyes, the strong power you people hold let you ignore the trifling dangers outside the ordinary. So you people would not know, within the boundless vast skies, how many killers have entered this city in secret, you people would not know what kind of information those individual cultivators have brought in, and what kind of messages they would bring away.”

The executive’s hand steadily sent the longsword into the dispirited shut-eyed Nine Provinces Private Bank’s tower-guarding elder’s heart, and blood fell to the ground along the sword’s body drop by drop. The warm blood flowed to the hands, but the executive did not loosen up his hands.

“How long have you guys prepared?” The tower-guarding elder leaned against the wall, and slowly slid down.

When the once lofty cultivators were about to die, they would be no different from ordinary old men, their faces pale-white, voices all dejected.

“Very, very long.” The executive said. How long?
Generation after generation, generation after generation, the lives of normal people would quickly come to an end—— that is, compared to the long-lived immortal cultivators. But the rage would not cease due to the end of one’s life, it would build up between life and death, and finally flourish into a blazing prairie fire.

The immortal cultivators’ arrogance, had blinded their eyes.

Very few immortal cultivators would go read the irrelevant books of ordinary people. In the eyes of immortal cultivators, what was important, were those sword techniques, those formations, those scriptures- the people who held extraordinary power would disdain reading books that had no use on strengthening their power.

Naturally, they would also have no way of perceiving, within those characters on the writings and drawings[1], just how long the rage had been passed down.

Writing and painting was an useless subject, yet was the most sharpest blade.

Each copy of the irrelevant books the immortal cultivators never cared for recorded the expansions of the lands the immortal sects occupied, recorded the innumerable white bones that died within the immortal sects’ conflict, recorded all the resentment they witnessed yet did not dare to call out on.

The Eight Sects’ spiritual fields and fertile lands spanned thousands of miles, yet outside the protective barriers of the spiritual fields were refugees dying away, and birds all over the fields. The foundation of the dynasties gave priority to farming, and yet, in Qi Qin dynasty with the Nine Provinces Private Bank as the lofty one, the merchants covered by the Bank occupied too many special rights.

Merchant carriages came and went in a hurry, while the farmers toiling day and night used their own blood and sweat to support this vast trade empire’s prosperity- though commercial tax was very heavy, those who benefited from it would not be the farmers who faced the yellow soils with their backs to the sky all day.

In the end, those tens of thousands of businesses’ incomes would only be turned into chunks and chunks of spirit stones and balls and balls of medicinal pills, and finally bring up a lofty immortal cultivator, soaring above the mortals.

Not knowing the sufferings of mortal lives. Famine, drought……
Year and year again, on top of the vast lands of the twelve dynasties, many refugees cry with no place to return to.

That deep of a wrath, that deep of a sorrow, in the end, were set in lines and lines of words, absolutely not ending due to the cycle of life and death.

“Rage is something that can hide.” The executive took out the
longsword, and used his own sleeves to wipe away the blood on the surface of the blade’s body. He gazed at the Private Bank’s elder whose breathing gradually stopped, and lightly spoke.

“You people…… on what basis would you think, these people who managed to live on from hardship with such difficulty, would that easily forget the hostility, and happily join you guys, and be one of your members?” The Private Bank’s elder’s eyes suddenly widened.

The executive laughed loudly.

“Would the disciples of the immortal sects all be parent-less?! Would everyone not have an origin?” His voice carried that deep, that strong of a ridicule, swift and fierce like the edge of a blade.

Strong winds majestically scraped by, and inside the Qing Ming tower guarded by the Nine Provinces Private Bank, there were disciples who expressionlessly took off the long robes that had the Private Bank’s symbols on it, and draped on a grey robe embroidered with Qi Qin dynasty’s white water cloud symbols.

And those disciples who changed into grey robes, they activated the formation that would stop the operation of the Qing Ming tower.

Tens of thousands of spirit stones embedded the surface of the black stone, just like an array of stars, and within the bright, fantastical light, was thick blood, slowly spreading out.

Midwinter was about to pass, so the sea’s winds whistled within the city’s big and small streets, with the frosty air still just like knives. The constellations in the sky slowly rotated, while blood and fire completely and thoroughly burned up on the lands of the twelve dynasties.

Of the Nine Provinces Private Bank’s tower-guarding disciples, those who died died, and those who changed into grey robes changed into them, and this Qing Ming tower that was typically seen as the sect’s symbol of its lofty status, for the first time, changed hands.

Secular power, for the first time, was engraved on top of the immortal cultivation’s arrogance.

Just like with the fall of the ancient emperors in the era of Chaos, the skies were no longer the domain of the kings, and the immortal cultivators’ flying vessels moved within the layer of clouds. For the first time in this era, ordinary people stepped into the domain that only belonged to immortal cultivators.

The dynasty, opened its pair of eyes in the fire.

As the executive stepped onto the Qing Ming tower’s topmost floor, the winds from a high place turned hurried like rapids, and his clothes rustled loudly.

Within the knife-like winds, the executive took out an old sandalwood box.

Very few people remembered this Qi Qin merchant city’s executive’s name. This was a city governed by the Nine Provinces Private Bank, and their might was like this ninety-nine-floored lofty Qing Ming tower, towering within the city. Merchants were this city’s most honourable group, and of the merchants, nine-tenths were the Bank’s people.

The merchants that did not belong to the Bank could not live on
here.

Under this kind of situation, who would still remember a secular
government official’s name? The executive’s name could not be even compared to a Private Bank’s counter-watching disciple.

Nevertheless, no one knew, the executive that looked to only be a civil official, was actually an immortal cultivator as well. On the lands of these twelve dynasties, the Eight Immortal Sects possessed the most number of immortal cultivators, but the dynasties and prominent families also had people who cultivated in immortality. Only, their power was so small, it could not compare with the immortal sects’. This was not some hard-to-understand matter. The immortal sects, after all was said and done, was the immortal sects erected on top of the land of the twelve dynasties. Just like how the Nine Provinces Private Bank needed to control Qi Qin dynasty’s commerce, the immortals sects, in the end, could not be rid of its relationship with the secular realm.

In each province and prefecture, the immortal sects taking in disciples needed the cooperation of dynasties- the influential clans and feudal officials would set up the site in place of the immortal sects, carry out the first screening for the immortal sects, and choose some cultivation- talented disciples. As a remuneration to a certain degree—— or perhaps it should be called reward, the immortal sects would thus confer a portion of the quota to the dynasty.

Through this, the dynasty’s influential clans could enter the immortal sects to cultivate, and a portion of these people would have some return to the dynasty. And those people who stayed in the sects, just like the branch establishment’s Elder Lin, like Jin Tang dynasty’s plan of Heaven’s Net, they would become the dynasty’s power within the sects.

On the other hand, the dynasty also had a portion of cultivating resources, and within the accumulation of time, slowly brought up a power that belonged to their own.

And the merchant city’s executive, was an immortal cultivator that the dynasty themselves brought up.

He held a box, and stood in the topmost place in this city, observing this earth enveloped in darkness.

Even if it was enveloped in darkness, the executive still clearly knew how many streets this city had, each scenery within this city, and what kinds of families were distributed in each area. This was the city he grew up in.

Within the black night, this stretch of land he was born in, grew up in, where he would also soon die in the end, was staging the bloodiest war.

Yes. This was war.

This was, after slowly removing its true face in the dark, the most cruel, and riskiest[2] war.

Darkness enveloped the merchant city. There were some families whose lights were on, some that lit up then were put out again—— most people were sleeping, and most people did not know at this time and moment, what kind of things were happening.

The executive laughed.

As he opened the old sandalwood box, an almost completed ancient map flew out from within.

That was, the Mountain Rivers Scroll that Clear-hearted Monk and Liu Wu Yan came from a far way to find.

The ancient scroll quickly spread out at the top of the Qing Ming tower, and within the darkness, a gold light as brilliant as the sun sprawled out from the Qing Ming tower. Vast and mighty, enveloping the larger half of the city in an instant.

That was a glorious, vast radiance that made people tremble.

Many people woke up from their sleep, and when they lifted their heads up, they saw that the area outside their windows was cast in a molten gold-like light. The young children would jump off their beds in surprise to this strange scene, and stumble outside. The older parents would call out to their own children in fright, and follow out. But after going out the door, everyone froze.

In the sunken-black night, gold rays of light spread all over from the tall Qing Ming tower they were familiar with, slowly flooding the air like flowing water, yet also swimming around in the streets like a swimming dragon. Those threads of a long river-like, dense or thin gold light rays fluctuated in the either high or low skies, like there was someone holding a paintbrush, drawing a vast miracle-like map of mountains and rivers of this world.

The gold rays of light outlined rising and falling mountains, and outlined surging waterways.

Within an instant, this city seemed to be overlaid with another landscape’s space-time.
One household, another household, and another household…… Within the darkness, countless people were startled awake, opening
windows, opening doors, and looking on at this miracle-like scene in shock.

The night, had been illuminated.

[1] 笔墨丹⻘- literally, pens and ink (writing), and red and black (colours often used in old paintings), in reference to paintings.

[2] 孤注⼀掷- essentially, to gamble all in on one. Stake everything into this one chance.

Chapter 172

Chapter One Hundred Seventy-two, the Fire to Burn the Night, the Plans of Fate. (燃夜之⽕, 天命之算)
When Qi Qin dynasty’s merchant city’s black night was shrouded in gold, people draped in robes with Qi Qin dynasty’s symbols and Jin Tang’s mask-wearing secret guards passed through just like ghosts.

This was a night of flowing blood.

Scarlet-red fires burned up on the land of the twelve dynasties, the things that everyone had never thought of happened, and the lofty, superior and incomparably overbearing immortal sects, for the first time, had its dignity offended.

The deep-black, ninety-nine-storied Qing Ming tower, the Qing Ming tower that seemed to never collapse, changed owners.

In this night that unveiled the opening of blood and fire, on top of the hills outside the merchant city, a dispirited blind fortune-telling mister sat inside an old and shabby little temple, shaking as he fiddled around with his own little pile of tattered belongings. By his side was a half-grown small young boy, the young boy was thin, with an appearance often seen of starved children.

Malnourished, carrying a wave of ruthlessness in his features.

The young boy’s eyebrows slightly rose up, just like a sharp sword. Underneath the up-slanted long brows, was a pair of pitch-black eyes carrying a light of stubbornness and rowdiness[1].

“Old bat, you’re still carrying these things around?”    The young boy was leaning against the wall growing with moss and weeds, biting down on a blade of grass, and looked at the blind fortune-teller from the corner of his eyes, with his tone a bit impatient. “Whatever, you can’t actually think you can still rely on these to get by life, right.”

The young boy’s tone was ill-willed, he also spoke quite stiffly, but what he said was not false. He and this blind fortuneteller had escaped from a bordering province in the south of Qi Qin dynasty—— that place long already had famine rampant. The food harvested from last autumn was not enough, and not long after entering winter, it started stirring up.

Except, that place was the south bordering province. It would not draw in people’s attention.

The young boy’s family all died, and when it was only left with him, he resolved himself and followed the refugees, leaving to the north from that place he was familiar with. He heard that inside Qi Qin dynasty’s commerce metropolis, the long streets would be all lit with lanterns, and crowded with people and horses- bearing this one obscure thought, the young boy chewed on grass blades, chewed on tree bark, and chewed on anything that could be eaten, and travelled to the north.

Qi Qin dynasty’s commerce guild was indeed famous within the country, but what was famous, was the dynasty, was the Nine Provinces Private Bank, were those big merchant cities- it had nothing to do with them commoners, and had nothing to do with that remote little place.

Halfway through, the young boy caught a fever.

He had no relatives, no friends, and no one paid attention to him, thus, he was tossed to the side of the road.

When the young boy laid on the roadside, his hands held a rock, and hazily thought, if there was some stupid crow pecking at himself, he would use this rock to strike the crow dead and make it his breakfast. On the road to escaping famine, this sort of thing was often seen.

Some people would fall down after walking and walking, still awake, their breath not stopped yet, and the crows hovering in the sky would swoop down—— following these refugees escaping famine, were those black and dense birds with offensive sounding calls.

When the first crow came down, he did his best to strike it dead. But there was still a second, a third……
After killing one and chasing away two, the young boy no longer had any strength. He only looked on helplessly as the crows came down, and the sharp bills pointed towards him.

Was he going to die? He hazily thought, and then felt unresigned.

He lived so uselessly for a lifetime, he never held a girls’ hand, nor did he ever wear a set of beautiful clothes. All this time, he lived no better than a dog, and died without being like a proper human. If there was even one single moment, where he lived properly like a human being, he would not be this unresigned.

But there wasn’t.

His chest was stifled with fire, yet the rock in his hands could not be held any longer, and just when the flock of crows were about to come down, he heard a song that was just like a large bell ringing. He was a penniless fellow, but he too had once heard the ladies of the red towers[2] singing, all sweet and melodious. Yet, at this time, what he heard was a singing voice unlike any of the singing he’s heard before.

That singing was old and hoarse, and carried a splitting feeling, yet was just like an ancient bronze bell being heavily hit again and again, like the voice was coming through the ancient times. Passing through clouds and splitting rocks[3], carrying a power that made people almost want to be in tears.

Within the singing, the pitch-black flock of crows got shaken so much they flapped their wings and flew up high to the skies.

That voice sang lyrics he had never heard of, that was of an extremely solemn tone:

“Spirit, oh spirit, who hast restrained you? Where have the dead gone, the living turn grieved!       Return, oh return, for I will be like the shadows.       Come, oh come, for time does not rest.        The gates to the Ninth Hell open wide, With not a single slow-witted spirit left ”

As the bronze bell of the era was struck, an ancient and imperishable vast feeling came right into the face, and his soul was like it was suddenly shaken back into its physical form. As though there was icy-cold water splashing down from the top of the skull, the young boy who originally reached the edge of losing consciousness suddenly opened his eyes, and gained a bit of strength once again.

He struggled with his all to look towards where the sound was coming from, and wanted to see what kind of person was singing this song that made people want to shed tears.

But after opening his eyes, he discovered that the skies already dimmed down into a murky colour, and the surroundings already had no other refugees, as they already went far away. And then, a hunched figure slowly walked up from the place the sun was setting at, where each step seemed to be walking over the sun that was hanging from the sky, and the body was draped in a blood-red afterglow.

—— In that instant, he felt like he saw an age-old warrior. That warrior sung a grieving song, and walked over here through the apocalypse.

Before that figure came close, the young boy fainted once again. When he fainted, he was no longer that unresigned. Though his life was just like that of an ant, all muddled and aimless, in his final moments, he saw an ancient warrior that most of this world’s people never saw, and heard that sorrowful of a melody- this way, it was considered worth it.

When he woke up again, he laid by a small little bonfire.

The one who saved him was a blind fortune-teller. They were already very old, held a walking cane, and just like him, was escaping from famine. Due to old age, their legs turned inconvenient, so he would fall to the back, and would then encounter the young boy having a fever and fainting on the roadside. The blind fortuneteller was dull and dry, with a frame of old bones- that figure of a mighty warrior was only a misconception the young boy had when his senses were hazy and vision turned blurry.

And that tune, was something the blind fortuneteller sang to boost his own courage.

This blind fortuneteller was old but still licentious, when he was speaking by the fire with him of the fantasies of entering the merchant city, he said with enrapture, everyone in the merchant city was wealthy, by randomly wandering around, he would be able to gain some money from wealthy people’s hands. The scraps from the wealthy’s hands were enough for them commoners to drink wine and eat meat for a majority of the night.

As he spoke, the blind fortuneteller winked at him and said, the skin of the brothel ladies inside the merchant city were very soft…… with his expression as wretched as can be.

The young boy heard that image of the warrior stepping from the setting and scorching sun inside his heart breaking.

He frowned, and did not know what to say.

After being saved by the old bat, the young boy started following them together to head north to the merchant city, and on the journey, the old bat flaunted his age by letting him carry his cane and things, while he carried a pile of old and tattered divination compasses and bamboo slips, trying hard to play out a demeanour of an immortal being. When they met someone, they would ask the other party if they wanted to have their fortunes told

When the young boy saw, he pretty much wanted to laugh.

Each and every one of these people escaping from disasters was poor as can be, where would they have the spare change for fortune telling, let alone from a fortuneteller that seemed to unreliably going by their days with one look.

But the old bat had a good mindset. He sincerely pledged, wait until they get to the merchant city, they could rely on his good divination skills, and become a guest of honour for the large and rich families. As he went on, he asked him if he was willing to come under his apprenticeship, he only needed twelve silvers.

The young boy was amused and vexed at the same time, and practically wanted to have this old bat’s things knocked over his head.

But just like this, the two stumbled and limped, and beyond people’s expectations, actually reached close to the merchant city.

When they walked to a hill not far from the merchant city, the young boy wanted to reach the merchant city in one go before resting, but the old bat said his legs were no good, and had to stay for a night in a ruined small temple.

There was no choice, so the two took a rest in this ruined shrine.

After resting, the old bat took out that pile of messy things of his and lowly muttered something as he fiddled with them. As the young boy watched, he found it funny- this entire way, the old bat boasted quite a few times to him how proficient, how matchless his divination skills were, but in the end, even the road foretold was inaccurate, and they ended up winding around a very far road. The young boy spoke to the old bat with an ill tone, and wanted the old bat to hurry up and rest.

However, the old bat today seemed to be a bit different from usual.

He trembled as he placed a bunch of confusing things that the young boy couldn’t understand across the floor, and rapidly and madly smeared some complex symbols he couldn’t understand—— at the beginning, the young boy thought the old bat was going crazy and just indiscriminately smearing things randomly, but very soon, he discovered those designs carried a kind of peculiar aesthetic, unlike something that could be drawn out through random strokes at all.

It faintly also seeped with a sliver of order.

He did not know why, but when he watched the old bat trembling his hands with a pale-white face fiddling around on the floor, the young boy suddenly felt an unease.

This kind of unease was very strange, it came out of nowhere.

He continuously called out to the old bat several times, but the old bat did not pay attention to him at all.

What was strange was, the old bat mumbling, randomly smearing things on the floor, fiddling with that pile of things he did not recognize, made the young boy once again recall that illusion he saw that day before he fainted——the sun to the west dejectedly hung down, while that ancient warrior stepped over the blood-coloured sunset, trekking over the endless vast lands with big steps.

That moment when the Mountain Rivers Scroll opened up on top of the merchant city’s Qing Ming tower, the old bat suddenly spurt out a mouthful of blood, and within the young boy’s sound of surprise, the old bat, with a speed that a regular elderly person could not possess, jumped up from the ground.

“Fire, fire!!” The old bat repeated in a mutter. He turned his head to look towards the direction of the merchant city, and right then, the expression on his face made the young boy pretty much feel like he was not like a blind person.

“What fire?”      The young boy asked, but when the words came out, he then discovered his own voice also carried a hard-to-conceal panic.

The old bat caught his hand, and staggered as he pulled him out the ruined shrine, and pointed to the direction of the merchant city, hoarsely saying, “Fire…… a great big fire.”

In the direction of the merchant city, the black night skies were ignited by gold molten flames.

[1] 桀骜不驯- the two separately mean untameable, in their own ways. Unyielding, or harsh and cruel.

[2] 红楼- red building, where the red is synonymous to being beautiful. Either refers to a residence of a rich young lady, or more commonly, the residence of prostitutes. Brothels. See, the famous novel of Dream of Red Mansions.
[3] 穿云裂⽯- to describe sound as being loud and clear, penetrating.

Chapter 173

Chapter One Hundred Seventy-three, Skies of the Merchant City Change, the Frame of Mountains and Rivers. (商都天变, ⼭河之⾻)
The young boy never thought that he would see such a scene.

Standing on top of the hills and distantly watching, one could see that the black night was lit up by the gold molten fires. On the surface of the boundless lands, the ninety-nine-floored Qing Ming tower was so dazzling that those ten thousand miles out could see it—— that tall tower that originally should have been pitch black, burned up in this night, just like a giant’s torch.

This scene was far too shocking, far too majestic, that it made the young boy uncontrollably start shaking.

He trembled in his voice, and unconsciously wanted to ask the old bat by his side, what it was.

But once he turned his head, the young boy instead froze right there.

The merchant city’s gold molten fires enveloped the entire city, and outside the city, the hills shined from the glows of the light, all bright and hazy. That light that shined over thousands of miles, also illuminated the old bat’s face, and in that one instance, the young boy saw the old blind man’s expression—— that was an expression that made people almost not dare to breathe. In the young boy’s knowledge, the indolent, old and licentious old bat’s expression was always feigned out, or wretched.

But at this moment, the old bat’s face did not have the wretchedness, did not have that improper look, nor did it not have that joking smile.

Each line of the old wrinkles seemed to be shrouded in the light of a blade at this time- the expression on the old bat’s face was so indifferent it shocked people. He directly focused towards the direction of the merchant city, and the gaze in his eyes almost made people not dare to believe that was a gaze a blind person would have.

No, not only the gaze.

At this moment, the sliver of danger flowing out from the old bat’s body was definitely not something a fortunetelling mister looking to go by days would have.

The old bat watched the merchant city, and the young boy watched the old bat.

An uncertainty passed by his mind:       —— Was the old bat really as he seemed on the surface, just a fortuneteller looking for a meal?

◈◈◈
The early morning light was no different from normal.

However, the inside of the merchant city was completely different from before.

In the ruined farmer’s house that Clear-hearted Monk, Liu Wu Yan, and Liao Qian stayed at the day before, Liao Qian who was dressed in tattered linen clothes sat on the floor, just like a defeated dog driven into a corner, taking in big crude breaths, utterly discomposed.

On the ground by his side, pierced the Xiu Shen Blade. Blood long seeped into the dirt along the body of the Xiu Shen Blade, and now formed into a small pool of an indistinct brown stain.

His appearance looked dishevelled enough, but Clear-hearted Monk was even more dishevelled than him. Right now, the cassock on this monk that came from Fan Yin Pavilion was thrown off somewhere, and the grey monk robes were also changed out, while his body was wrapped tightly, just like a packet of steamed glutinous rice, laying on a damp bed without moving at all.

Clear-hearted Monk’s eyes were open, and vacantly watched the leaking rooftop.

He originally should have died in front of the Nine Provinces Private Bank’s doors—— this young monk that looked to be refined and sympathetic, after he killed Wang Jing Zhi yesterday, wanted to recklessly go kill those things coming from the warehouse of the Nine Provinces Private Bank.

Liao Qian did not know what things Clear-hearted Monk saw underneath the warehouse.

After Clear-hearted Monk and Liu Wu Yan left, Liao Qian sat inside this house in a daze for a while, and in the end, reached out to grab the blade and cursed out loud, then rushed towards the direction of the Nine Provinces Private Bank as well—— he was a coward back then, but now, he didn’t want to be a coward any longer. Liao Qian did not know where the Mountain Rivers Scroll was, but as for the Nine Provinces Private Bank, he believed he was a bit more familiar than Clear-hearted Monk, and thus wanted to rush over there to help Clear-hearted Monk.

As a result, halfway along the road, he encountered two people who he was unsure if they were Jin Tang’s secret guards or not.

Liao Qian was not someone like Liu Wu Yan, able to brandish blades at any time and cut down even if they could not fight against them. He used some small tricks, and used some effort to give the slip to those two, then rushed to the Nine Provinces Private Bank. When he arrived, with one look, he knew it was too late.

The Nine Provinces Private Bank was already enveloped in black fog, and Clear-hearted Monk heavily fell to the ground due to a hit from a giant hand-like thing congealed from black aura. Liao Qian also saw that there were still countless of those giant beast-like figures within the black fog.

Like the entire branch of the Private Bank already turned into a monster-like thing.

As he stood in front of the black fog, a terrifying pressure came straight to the face.

And at that time, gold water-like rays of light already swam about in the merchant city’s big and small streets. The things in the black fog grew stronger and stronger, and in comparison, a cultivator like Clear-hearted Monk turned more and more weaker.

But instead, the Clear-hearted Monk who was sent flying and coughing out blood, struggled to climb from the ground, and wanted to go against it again.

This Buddhist with a face written full with pity at that time looked like an insane lunatic.

Liao Qian took out Xiu Shen, gripped it, and rushed over.

The universal constellations in the interior of the Xiu Shen Blade was reversed, and Liao Qian himself was originally also someone who reversed life and death- so even though the spiritual energy of the elements getting overturned by the Mountain Rivers Scroll opening also made him feel terrible, he was not like Clear-hearted Monk, having his strength crippled with a terrifying speed.

But even then, Liao Qian also pretty much put up his own little life to be able to rescue Clear-hearted Monk back. At this time, the inside of the merchant city already completely turned to daytime.

The mask-wearing hidden guards and people draped in grey robes wandered all around, killing off the remaining immortal sects’ disciples, and blood poured over the Qing Ming tower. An unprecedented abnormality was happening right in this city at this moment.

The city gates were blocked off.

Liao Qian did not dare bring Clear-hearted Monk along to break out of the city, and thus could only pick those small roads to circle around before bringing the severely-injured Clear-hearted Monk back to the ruined little house they were staying at in the first place. This was a stretch of ruins that the first famine left behind, so there were only vagrants and famine victims that escaped from other places residing in this place that did not seem like it was for people to live in.

After treating Clear-hearted Monk’s injuries with all his strength, Liao Qian also sat right down, and vacantly sat for an entire night.

This city’s five elements were reversed, spiritual energy in disorder, while the primordial energy circulating in Clear-hearted Monk’s veins was in a state of extreme instability. Though Liao Qian had a bit of recovering spiritual medicine, he did not dare to give it to him, thus, could only be like a mortal doctor, and wrap his wounds for him.

After the day came, Clear-hearted Monk woke up.

He dumbfoundedly looked at the rooftop for a while, then hoarsely said, “The Mountain Rivers Scroll has been opened.”

“I know.”       Liao Qian replied feebly.       “Don’t go thinking about what mountains or rivers now.”

As Liao Qian said this, he climbed up from the ground grimacing in pain, and brandished the blade tied to his waist. He hobbled to the side of the door, and very carefully opened a small little gap and spied outside. This dilapidated and ruined place looked to be as usual, all quiet and calm, without any energy. The one place that was not the same, should be the remnants of gold light still flickering in the air.

“Right now, whether we can live on or not is still a problem, Lord Buddhist.” Liao Qian said.

Chapter 174

Chapter One Hundred Seventy-four, Rain of Blood About to Come, Mad Winds Already Here. (⾎⾬将来, 狂⻛已⾄)
The skies changed[1].   As the young boy supported the old bat while standing outside the city gates in a very long lineup, he thought to this inside.

Pretty much everyone thought like this. And the truth was also as such.
Standing outside the city, one could see the ninety-nine story Qing Ming tower already turn from the former deep-black into a gold-like colour, just like the hazy molten fire from last night. The soldiers guarding the city gates were already changed out too—— several months ago, a twenty thousand-strong army from Qi Qin dynasty quietly came from the southwest fort, then stationed at a place not far from the merchant city.

Immortal cultivators rarely cared for the battles and confrontations of the secular dynasties’ armies.

Though immortal cultivators and ordinary people lived on the same land of the twelve dynasties, the arrogant immortal cultivators always thought that ordinary people and immortal cultivators were living in two different worlds.

It was precisely this kind of situation, that a maneuvring of a large army would draw in other dynasties’ vigilance, but not draw in the immortal sects’ attention.

And a few days before the Mountain Rivers map was opened, this army of twenty thousand quietly stationed inside a forest not far from the merchant city, keeping quiet as they suffered from the cold. That night the Mountain Rivers Scroll was completely open, the big gates to the merchant city opened up, and a portion of the top-most elite of the twenty thousand- big army stepped into the city.

The merchant city entered a very strange state.

For the first time, the immortal sects’ strength appeared with a vacuum within the twelve dynasties’ biggest city.

Each street and each alley was tightly controlled, with the Qing Ming tower that turned into a scarlet-gold colour lined with a tight defence.

And at this time, masked people of mysterious origins and strange auras were coming and going into the Qing Ming tower.

Some complex and shockingly-precise star-imitating apparatuses[2] were placed in each and every floor, and directly faced the light pillar of constellations hovering at the very core of the Qing Ming tower. In the skies ten thousand zhang up above the Qing Ming tower, slivers of thin gold threads spread all around, slightly rising and falling like it had life to it.

And the place the Nine Provinces Private Bank was at was declared a restricted area.

The authority the Bank and Qi Qin dynasty were closely interrelated, so after the Bank no longer existed in the merchant city, Qi Qin dynasty, for the first time, controlled this city.

Other than people like Old Liu who long perceived the airs of change and its participants, everyone else was shocked by this sudden change. The troops stationed in the merchant city was Qi Qin dynasty’s elite, a cavalry named “Feng Lei[3]”.

At the time everyone was dumbfounded and at a loss, new laws were put down, and under new provisions, it would excuse the overly burdensome taxes constantly added to the farmers before this. After the armoured soldiers burned down the Nine Provinces Private Bank building by building[4], they distributed the seized gold and silver to the city’s people.

These young soldiers were donned in armour, their waists hung with treasured swords, silent and imposing, but when they were knocking on doors, their actions were apparently gentle.

At the intersections of the streets, glued with official bulletins.

The bulletin came from the descendants of Qi Qin’s Confucian scholars, constantly writing from the start of Qi Qin dynasty’s establishment, all the way until today, noting down how the Nine Provinces Private Bank won over profits in the long history, how they were powerful and matchless, how, in these many years, the fields belonging to Private Bank increased, and how much fertile farmland they seized.

The day the bulletin was posted, the soldiers stationed outside the city stepped onto the soils planted with ling zhi that originally belonged to the Nine Provinces Private Bank.

Fire burned up on the soils.

Just like that gold-like tall tower.

The world changed, and the lowly ant-like people were now doing their best to stand up.

“General.” Standing atop of a city gate tower, the executive held onto the railing, and quietly surveyed the fields far away burning with smoke. “We are burning a fire on the sects’ roots with this.” The executive’s voice carried a lament.

“The fields have not grown with the five cereals[5] for too long now, we should let it restore its original purposes now.” Standing beside the executive was a big and tall middle-aged warrior. He was dressed in silver armour, and his back was carrying a thick and heavy giant sword.

The executive turned silent for a while, then asked, “Is General not afraid? This is a battle against that kind of giant existence that is the Eight Immortal Sects. The opponents are immortals, and our soldiers are only some ordinary young men.”

“I am.”       The general lowly spoke, and he reached out to stroke the heavy sword carried on his own back. He was an immortal cultivator, but his gift was not very high. He was good at marching in big battles, but in front of immortal cultivators, an army consisted of normal people had no use whatsoever all this time.

“After the Mountain Rivers Scroll had been opened, the five elements may have overturned, and the immortal cultivators’ strength here may be weakened to the point they would no longer be strong. However, what we are to face, is not a completely defenceless Nine Provinces Private Bank, but the entire world’s Eight Immortal Sects. For the merchant city enveloped by the Mountain Rivers Scroll, we soldiers certainly can guard it well, but what about outside the city? Furthermore……”

The general paused, and observed the distant horizon.

“That is the Eight Immortal Sects, the ancient, mysterious, and powerful Eight Immortal Sects. Who knows what other methods they have? If they were able to find a way to restrain the five elements overturning, and enter the merchant city, just one or two powerful elders could easily kill you and I—— an overlord such as the immortal sects, do not seem like they would tolerate someone provoking their dignity.”

“Let alone when this is not a provocation, but a war to the death[6].” The executive quietly listened to this old Qi Qin general, then laughed,
and spoke lightly. “To the death.” The general repeated this phrase, and looked towards the distant horizon, as though looking at a distant place.

“At a time long ago, I was thinking, if there was one day the emperor ordered me to go on an expedition to the immortal sects, then I would lead my soldiers and advance without any hesitation, even if it was a battle that was like heading to death itself. We’ve waited for far, far too long. Having been ruled by those lofty immortal sects for that long, when have those people known what was called famine, and what was called despair?”

“There is no returning arrow for the drawn bow[7].”     When the two were speaking, a voice suddenly interrupted them.

The executive and general turned their heads, and saw Du Ya bring a man wearing a golden mask along the wall.

“The immortal sects are of ancient lineage, controlling a power that ordinary people are unable to peer into, however, it is not like we are without anything. We similarly possess a powerful, ancient power, and this ancient power even once overturned the ancient emperors’ domination. Please allow me to introduce to you two, the one who came from the Eighteen Clans of Old, Mr. Lü. He will soon bring an extraordinary power for our soldiers.”

The winds above the city walls whistled by, and the golden mask- wearing person just stood there, with the light around him seeming like it was getting absorbed- where he stood, it would be like a span of darkness.

“Immortal cultivators were just mortals in the beginning too.”
The person wearing the golden mask opened their mouth with a low and deep tone.

“Their power came from the Eighteen Clans of Old who stole from the ancient emperors back then. If our soldiers are able to receive the same ancient power as the era of Chaos’ Eighteen Clans of Old today, then, sending an expedition to the immortal sects would not be impossible.” His tone was not high, and was even a bit hoarse.

But from his words, the overspreading flames of war and scent of blood opened up just like that, ferociously seeping out.

◈◈◈
When molten fire burned up on the grasslands, within an instant, it could turn into a tide-like sea of fire, so fast it shocked people.

Let alone when it was a long-premeditated big fire.

The merchant city’s Nine Provinces Private Bank was destroyed, and the change of ownership of the Qing Ming tower was completed in just one night. Before the news had spread to other immortal sects, and the Nine Provinces Private Bank’s branches located in other cities reacted, new movements unfolded with terrifying speed.

After Qi Qin dynasty and the Nine Provinces Private Bank’s veil of peace was ripped apart, the dynasty displayed its terrifyingly-resolute determination and action.

The people in the entire land of the twelve dynasties who decided to overthrow the sects seemed to be determined to have Qi Qin dynasty where the weakest of the sects was thoroughly infiltrated made into a normal territory only belonging to the mortals.

Inside Qi Qin dynasty’s borders, one after another Qing Ming tower changed hands, and a big army concealed for many years pulled up a dense line of defence from Qi Qin dynasty’s northwest border.

This was an army that Jin Tang, South Chen, and Qi Qin used many years to create.

They were formed from immortal cultivators that belonged to the dynasties- these immortal cultivators did not have that deep and profound cultivation that various elders had, but their defining point was that of soldiers, and not independent and solitary immortal cultivators. They were all outfitted with the same spiritually-enhanced weapons, and densely guarded the borders of Qi Qin dynasty, pledging to guard this line that did not allow the immortal sects to cross before Qi Qin dynasty thoroughly completed its revolution.

“As expected, it was the Nine Provinces Private Bank.”   At Jiu Xuan Sect’s main sect, Yi He Ping stood atop the high platform at the Jade Harmony Pavilion, and looked far off into the distance.

He lightly sighed.

The Nine Provinces Private Bank was famous for commerce. It was originally of low cultivation, and if one, under the coordination of spies, employed methods like poisoning and formations against them, it certainly was the weakest link of the Eight Immortal Sects. Additionally, a third of the entire wealth in the twelve dynasties was pretty much held by the Private Bank, and taking down the Nine Provinces Private Bank, was equal to having a strong and solid resource, able to supply the aids in the following war.

Even if it was like this, the speed of the upheaval of the Nine Provinces Private Bank was faster than expected.

Yi He Ping did not feel this was something that merely one Qi Qin dynasty was able to complete.

Jin Tang, South Chen, or perhaps other countries, holders of secret techniques, the release demons from the Eighteen Clans…… it was this many powers mixing and erupting together that would then have this rapid of a movement.

Behind this rapidness, was a scheme painstakingly accumulated over several hundreds of years.

The Private Bank lost justly.

Trumpet birds flew about on the main roads of the twelve dynasties, keeping watch of the sects’ every move. At this kind of time, even if Yi He Ping clearly knew Jin Tang and South Chen spared no efforts at the back in participating, he could not carry out any actions.

Like killing their emperors, killing off the heads of prominent families…… just like the actions they took before this. However, this kind of frightening conduct, at this time, already lost its effectiveness.

The sects, in the end, were the sects standing on the land of the twelve dynasties.

The sects, in the end, could not kill off everyone in the dynasties, because before this——

The sects still needed to exhaust all its power to seek out the traitors and spies hidden within its sects.

The rain of blood and winds spread open, and no one had any way of retreating from it.

[1] 天变- can be taken literally, or, like with how the sky is used to refer to the country, in reference to a political landscape, it is a term for huge changes like a coup d’etat- but instead of a rebellion, this term often refers to a restoration of former power, like a certain dynasty regaining the authority it once had.

[2] 星罗象仪- apparatus in which imitates the way the stars spread? Or if you take 罗 as catching/net, catching stars instead?
[3] Storms and lightning.

[4] 挨家挨⼾- more read door to door, or family to family, or house to house.

[5] cereal crops- grass grown for the edible components of its grain. The five refer to rice, two types of millet, wheat, and beans.

[6] 不死不休- to describe persistence, til death do we stop. [7] 开⼸没有回头箭- there is no taking back the arrow once it is shot out. Expression for that which has been done must be taken to completion.

Chapter 175

Chapter One Hundred Seventy-five, Old Chen’s Warriors, the Mountains and Rivers. (前陈武⼠, ⼭河如此)
When Yi He Ping put down the orders of a purge, in a place very far from Jiu Xuan Sect, a secret carriage fleet was diligently moving forward.

Shen Chang Ge was sitting within the carriage, silently thinking about things.

Trumpet birds flew down from the skies, bringing back a bloodiness being performed at a place faraway —— at this time, Jiu Xuan Sect, Tai Shang Sect, Fan Yin Pavilion…… all the sects other than the Nine Provinces Private Bank should be having a purge.

The people of the immortal sects were not fools.

Before this, they should have faintly perceived something, only, the great change with the Bank made them startled that the number of blades hidden within the sects were a lot more than they imagined, and that the edges of the blades were even dipped in poison.

With this purge, the immortal sects and the dynasties should be considered evenly-matched.

A dynasty was a country, and training in information collection and ambush was what a country excels in. Though sects that cultivated all day long were powerful, in this aspect, they had no way of comparing with a country. Just like how immortal cultivators may be strong, they were not competent in marching and fighting wars, it was of the same principle.

However, an immortal sect had an immortal sect’s power.

The methods of immortal cultivators of deep and profound cultivation far exceeded the ordinary people’s imagination. They were not good at spying, but had other secret techniques.

Isolated almighties walked out of their territories, with their spiritual insights enveloping the sect, overseeing the entire sect’s winds and grass moving, and all the suspicious disciples and elders would soon be taken into the sect’s enforcement halls to enter interrogation. But once the dynasties’ people’s identities were revealed, it was not like they would give in without a fight.

Mad winds and blood, for the first time, spread out in the lofty sects.

The trumpet birds hovering in the high skies brought back news written full with names.

Each name was soaked in blood.

The one responsible for the law enforcement of Jiu Xuan Sect, Xuan Li Peak’s Elder He Qing Chuan, did not appear in this bloody scene, and the explanation from Sect Leader Yi He Ping was that he was sent out by the sect to chase the traitors—— all the people who betrayed the sect would have their heads cut off.

Replacing He Qing Chuan in control of Xuan Li Peak was his son, He Zhou.

After returning from Bing Province’s Qing Ming tower, He Zhou disappeared from people’s eyes for a very long period of time. Then, when he appeared in the sect once again, everyone pretty much could not tie him with that former young man who would be conceited, yet would still put effort in guiding the brothers. He was draped in long black robes, his face did not have a smile, and sat within the main hall of Xuan Li Peak, while a cold blade was pierced into the ground in front of him.

The aura on his body carried a kind of terrifying might, and when the people who walked into Xuan Li Peak’s main hall saw him, it was like seeing a solitary warrior from the ancient times, like the power of the era of Chaos revived in his body.

What shocked the sects was, the traitors concealed in the sects, even included the elders that isolated for a long time.

In Tai Shang Sect, an elder lit up a spiritual fire, and when the flames were kindled on the tall mountain covered in snow all year, the elder got surrounded in the middle, then leisurely smiled as he took his own life
—— he was discovered when he tried activating a formation hidden underneath Tai Shang Sect’s side mountain.

◈◈◈
Pile after pile, case after case.

The foul winds and rains of blood within the immortal sects temporarily tripped their steps, making them have no way of interfering and stopping the changes rising in Qi Qin dynasty for the time being, and on the surface, other than Qi Qin dynasty, other dynasties were still calm and quiet as always.

Even if all the people knew that within this upheaval, all the dynasties were participating without sparing any efforts.

This was the first instance of a dark age in the immortal sects’ history.

ash.
For the first time, the sects’ blades were faced internally.

After sighing, the rice paper in Shen Chang Ge’s hands turned into This was not some matter that one could take to the table- assassination, ambush, traitors…… these phrases were never glorious. In the Jiu Xuan Sect of Shen Chang Ge’s memories, the brothers and sisters would laugh merrily, get into fights, where everyone arrogantly provoked each other, and yet in the secret territory, would risk their lives to save the others.

That kind of Jiu Xuan Sect……

Harbouring suspicions and killing was happening within that kind of Jiu Xuan Sect.

This was the most cruel strike the dynasties made towards the sect.

The immortal sects were far too arrogant. They were blade-holding swordsmen[1], but the dynasties were politicians, and politicians never stopped at anything.

However, Shen Chang Ge felt like Yi He Ping would have known this. Shen Chang Ge always felt like the scariest one within the entire sect was not the malicious-looking Elder Qin, nor He Qing Chuan who carried a heavy sabre…… but that eternally elegant scholar-like sect leader.

Sometimes, Shen Chang Ge felt like Yi He Ping must have known there was a Heaven’s net coming down towards the immortal sects.

The current Yi He Ping wouldn’t not know what disaster this kind of purge would have on a sect’s future, only…… aside from a purge, they had no other choice.

Shen Chang Ge closed his eyes.

The carriage pulled by night horses stopped, as they already arrived at their destination.

◈◈◈
To Chen Yan Yu’s back, stood a white-haired old man. This was where Qi Qin dynasty, Jin Tang dynasty, and South Chen dynasty’s common boundaries met. Mountain ridges rose and fell, while mask-wearing hidden guards were like a flock of crows, hiding in the surrounding forests. This place where the three countries bordered each other stood a tall platform.

The surroundings of the tall platform were placed with dense formations, with warriors wearing armour quietly going to and fro—— their armour trickled with a molten gold-like light, emitting an aura that made people feel in awe.

This was definitely not some ordinary mortal army.

This group of warriors protected Chen Yan Yu from South Chen dynasty all the way here quietly, and they were Old Chen’s warriors. When Old Chen was ruined, a bunch of warriors were buried in the blazing fires lit in the imperial palace, but there was also another bunch that took off their armour, and hid within the boundless crowd of people.

Old Chen’s destruction was not an accident, nor was it merely only a coup to seize power by an ambitious member of the imperial family.

Old Chen secretly opened a secret territory left by an ancient emperor, and used that secret territory to privately create an army able to fight against immortal cultivators for many years, and that army, on the surface, was Old Chen’s martial warriors.

However, before the army completely formed, they were perceived by Jiu Xuan Sect.

Jiu Xuan Sect’s sect leader of that time felt the risk, and he made the resolution to punish Old Chen that bore the wild ambitions, and erase that army aimed against the sects from the land of the twelve dynasties.

Just at this time, the future emperor of South Chen, who was also the royal uncle feared by the emperor of Old Chen of that time, sent someone to secretly send Jiu Xuan Sect’s sect leader a letter, saying he was willing to rise an army to overthrow Old Chen. For many years, he had enough of the humiliation from the emperor in the capital, and now, he already decided not to restrain himself. However, he was worried about that secret group of warriors- his own soldiers were not the opponents of those warriors, thus, hoped to obtain the aid of the immortal sect, and was willing to repay the sect with all he could give.

Jiu Xuan Sect agreed.

The army of South Chen’s great forefather was as valiant and good at battling as Jiu Xuan Sect said. The marching big army was like breaking through bamboo, attacking the capital the entire way. The emperor had to use that secret army created for the immortal sect in order to turn the tides.

However, greeting Old Chen’s warriors, were mysterious people draped in black robes hidden within the forefather’s army.

The immortal sects did not want to leave the image of them participating in a war’s chaos, thus, in that battle, the elders and disciples sent by the sect were all draped in black robes and had their faces hidden.

The secret army that had not been completed were killed off just like
this.

After the war ended, South Chen’s great forefather offered his
thanks to Jiu Xuan Sect, and signed an agreement with Jiu Xuan Sect. Since then, Jiu Xuan Sect possessed large spans of land in South Chen to use to grow ling zhi with, and the sect held the right to recruit disciples in the provinces.

Nevertheless, only a very few number of people knew that Old Chen’s martial warriors did not completely die off, and that battle back then was not that simple either.

South Chen’s great forefather was the uncle of Old Chen’s final emperor.

South Chen’s final emperor followed his father in a tour of inspection when they were young, and often met with rebellions. Within the spreading of flames of war, it was the great forefather who firmly protected the young nephew, and risked his life to send him to the capital. Later on, when the final emperor ascended the throne, it was he who personally requested the emperor to demote him to establish [the emperor’s] prestige.

On the surface, the great forefather was demoted from the capital, but in truth, was sent to the place where South Chen bordered Huang Ling dynasty, and defended the most strategically-located mountain pass for him.

Afterwards when the existence of Old Chen’s martial warriors was exposed, the great forefather raising an army and personally overthrowing his own nephew was actually a rebellion Old Chen’s last emperor secretly ordered.

He received the orders and sent an expedition.

With the secret army’s exposing, Old Chen’s Emperor Chen Xun knew he would definitely be unable to live on- be it Jiu Xuan Sect or Tai Shang Sect, there was no sect that would tolerate him living further on. However, he absolutely would not allow the plans that Chen dynasty prepared for that long to discontinue with him.

So, he asked his own uncle to raise an army to overthrow himself, and take over Chen dynasty’s land. On the surface, they would erase the existence of Old Chen’s martial warriors, and instead withdraw into the darkness and slowly develop there.

It was precisely because this was a rebellion that received the permission of the emperor, that the great forefather’s army would have such an uninterrupted success with victory after victory—— Chen Xun secretly transferred a majority of the defence elsewhere.

This was a war fought for the sects to see.

When the forefather’s cavalry and the people the sect sent out stepped into Chen dynasty’s capital, the young emperor sat in his own throne dressed in armour, with his hand holding a longbow. He watched his own uncle and the sect’s people draped in black robes walk into the imperial palace, and calmly shot a swift and fierce long arrow towards the uncle who helped protect him and escape from the chaos of war when he was young—— the long arrow was shot down with a wave of the sleeve by a black-robed person.

Chen Xun bitterly denounced the great forefather as a rebellious and unfaithful subject, and cursed how the sects oppressed the commoners.

Within the blazing fires, his tone was like a battle cry.

When Chen Xun was still a prince, he was frail-looking and quiet, nobody would have thought that many years later, he would have this bravery to raise an army in secret to try and oppose the incomparably mighty sects.

Old Chen’s warriors turned out from behind the throne, and carried out a battle to the death with the sect’s black-robed people. Within the fighting and flames, the quiet and frail prince of that year threw down the longbow and drew out his sword, just like a warrior, and rushed towards his own uncle.

The great forefather killed him.

Big fires burned up in Old Chen’s palace, while the tongues of the fire swept up towards the sky. Within the flames, the great forefather smiled towards the Jiu Xuan Sect elder who came with him, and thanked them for aiding him in taking the throne, washing away the disgrace of being oppressed by a young brat[1].

After assisting the establishment of South Chen, drawing up the contract of the division of farmland, and killing the opposing martial warriors, Jiu Xuan Sect’s black-robed people turned and returned to the sect.

Only leaving the soon-to-ascend forefather in the night expressionlessly looking towards the soaring Qing Ming tower. The sword that killed Chen Xun since then was hung within the forefather’s sleeping chambers.

Long before the big army stepped into the capital, the martial warriors who changed outfits quietly left to continue growing in the darkness. Chen Xun died, but the rage and hatred did not die with this, and generation after generation, they continued to exhaust all their strength in secret.

In grief with the death of his nephew, the great forefather resolved to unite all the dynasties that had thoughts of overturning the sects.

Before the sects, the power of mortals was far too weak. If ants wanted to shake the sky-reaching big tree, then they must form into a boundless and endless overbearing tide.

Chen Xun was a hot-blooded young emperor, so he could not patiently bear it.

But the forefather could.

The forefather could calmly smile towards the people who forced his nephew to death after he personally killed his own nephew, and cordially thank them.

The person Jiu Xuan Sect’s sect leader should have not spared the price to kill should not have been Chen Xun, but the forefather.

That, was a venomous snake-like man who also carried the fires of wrath inside.

[1] ⻩⽑⼩⼦- literally read as yellow-haired brat, with the yellow hair in reference to the colour of hair a young, not-yet-mature child bears.

Chapter 176

Chapter One Hundred Seventy-six, Alliance of the Dynasties, Eternal Grief. (王朝之盟, 千古之悲)
“Your Majesty.”        The white-haired old teacher lowly called out to Chen Yan Yu.

Standing on the tall platform, Chen Yan Yu watched the stretching umber-black mountain ranges as cold winds swept his lapel, and lowly said, “We’ve finally walked to this step. Even at this time, I still feel like I can’t believe it.”

It was just like a very long trek.

Many people whose faces were already unclear and hazy walked on this road spread with many thorns, where the people in front would walk and walk, then fall down. All the people knew this was a road that was very hard to walk on- the end of the road could be bright, but also could be destruction, but nobody retreated, and only walked down generation after generation.

The people who replaced them and walked through this road, only bore a thought of “go”, but in reality, they did not know if they were able to walk to the end of that road.

They walked for that long of a time, so long that just when everyone was accustomed to the pain and endurance, they finally walked to the end of the road. Everything would soon to have a period drawn on it, only, no know knew what kind of result that end was.

“Your Majesty!” The old teacher yelled out loud.

Chen Yan Yu was suddenly startled. The expression on the old teacher at this moment clearly returned to the look of the person who was once his instructor in the learning hall, where his gaze was able to penetrate people’s hearts.

“Your Majesty, those who accomplish important things, need not to hesitate. Feebleness and hesitation will only harm oneself and others.”
Just like how he once taught the stubborn and stupid students in the classroom, the old teacher’s voice was deep and low, yet extremely powerful.

“I know.” Chen Yan Yu froze, then bitterly laughed as he
spoke.

He lifted his head up, and looked towards the leisurely flowing
clouds in the sky, and faintly opened his mouth, “I only barely understood, just what kind of feelings Father bore when sending me out the imperial palace back then.”

Jin Tang dynasty’s Ji clan used a method of transferring memories generation after generation to ensure that the flames in the blood would eternally burn on. The Chen dynasty did not have that kind of method, but South Chen’s great forefather was a snake-like, extremely terrifying person- he was able to smile towards his foes, able to personally kill his own nephew, and able to put down this plan that looked at now, was still very shocking.

When the great forefather was in reign, he took the remaining warriors that accepted the ancient emperor’s strength, and formed a secret army with them. This was a blade that was held in the hands of the imperial clan, however, in needed times, this blade would, for the sake of South Chen dynasty’s grandiose plan, cut down towards the imperial clan themselves as well. Each generation of princes would be observed by this army, and once they discovered which prince forgot the grudges and wanted to stand by the immortal sect’s side, this group of warriors hidden in the dark would use various methods to eliminate that prince, and ensure that the one to ascend the throne in the very end, would not be the immortal sects’ puppet.

Only the prince bearing the deepest hatred and wrath could become Chen dynasty’s ruler.

And at the same time, each generation of emperors would send one of their own princes to the common realm, and let them personally witness the commoners’ destitution and homelessness, and let what they saw turn into an eternal and inextinguishable flame of rage.

If not a single one of the princes left within the palace were qualified, then the prince sent out to the common realm would be taken back, and become the emperor.

And so, for each emperor of Chen dynasty, their bones would be hidden with a sharpness like a blade.

Sometimes, Chen Yan Yu also felt like doing things like this was practically mad, but living in this kind of era, if one was not mad, they would probably not live on.

“They have arrived.”

As sounds of footsteps came, Chen Yan Yu turned around.

Two people walked up along the stairs from two different directions to the platform.

Jin Tang dynasty’s emperor, Ji Bing.   Qi Qin dynasty’s emperor, Bai Yi Qing[1].

He had previously seen Jin Tang dynasty’s Emperor Ji Bing several times, but as for Qi Qin dynasty that was world-famous for its commerce, Bai Yi Qing was unexpectedly a young person filled with scholarly airs, and looked to be very quiet. Just from his appearance alone, one would feel like they were a frail emperor accustomed to exclaiming over the autumn moons and spring’s sorrows[2].

Not one bit like someone who would participate in this rebellious and mad thing with slim chances of survival under the might of the Eight Immortal Sects.

And yet, Chen Yan Yu who had dealt with him before knew- this Bai Yi Qing who looked to be gentle and unassertive was probably the scariest emperor in all of Qi Qin’s history.

His brother was the crown prince with overwhelming ambition, and thus drew in the Nine Provinces Private Bank’s alertness- not long after the crown prince ascended the throne, they died to assassination.

And just before the crown prince died, they recklessly cursed at the Nine Provinces Private Bank.

The crown prince said, even if the Bai family died to the point there was only one person left, they were going to burn down the Private Bank.

This curse made the Nine Provinces Private Bank uneasy, but the Private Bank after all, was a sect erected on Qi Qin dynasty- they were able to kill Bai clan’s emperor without any hesitation, but as a sect that cultivated in immortality, the Nine Provinces Private Bank could not publicly replace the Bai clan’s imperial authority.

Sects and countries were two completely different concepts.

And so, the Private Bank decided to choose a prince that was the easiest to control, and foster him into a puppet emperor of the Nine Provinces Private Bank.

They chose the most useless of Qi Qin’s imperial household, the Bai Yi Qing who was infatuated with calligraphy and literature all day. —— They chose the most dangerous person, and even pushed him up with throne.

After the frail and quiet Bai Yi Qing became the emperor, he looked to not care for anything at all, and indulged in convening poetry gatherings, completely infatuated with writing. A passive[3] emperor, no matter if it was in the eyes of immortal cultivators that worshipped strength or the Nine Provinces’ commerce guild that chased after profit, had no threat whatsoever.

The immortal sects’ arrogance made them ignorant to many things.

Immortal cultivators held disdain in understanding the common realm’s Confucian scholars and generational aristocratic families, so naturally, they would not know that the scholars and poets[4] that came and went to Bai Yi Qing’s hosted poetry gatherings were actually a part of the leaders of the literary world, and more importantly, they were all part of prominent families, with respectable identities, and of the rich and abundant.

They would sing songs and drink to their fill, then in the intricate and long poetry, capture obscure artistic conceptions to transmit all sorts of information- a single poetry gathering was a silent project.

Bai Yi Qing used this kind of method to unite the long-endured prominent families.

He was also proficient in a lot of varying knowledge, extremely resourceful[5], and good at catering to others’ fancies, and the traits(?) targeting Nine Provinces Private Bank’s commerce guild infiltrated the Private Bank—— though it was said this was a matter that the dynasty prepared and carried out after the “Alliance of Three Dynasties” was formed, without a doubt, Bai Yi Qing let it reach a pretty much terrifying use by the closing phase of Qi Qin dynasty.

As the poetry gatherings hosted by Bai Yi Qing got more and more famous, South Chen and Jin Tang dynasty’s scholars also started rushing to Qi Qin from a long ways journey, all to catch this grand meeting between literary people.

Of the scholars that hurried to the poetry gathering, there were certainly many that were simply just heading for the poetry gathering, however, there were also some scholars whose poems would be hidden with much more important information, and there were also some whose sleeves would be hiding with blades—— this world-famous poetry gathering gave Jin Tang dynasty’s elite secret guards very good conditions for concealing things.

Thus, those crows that symbolized death within the darkness of Jin Tang would then appear in various dynasties’ corners, and complete some secretive missions that could not be exposed.

Other than this, there was a much more important goal for Bai Yi Qing in making acquaintances with the world’s scholars.

He gathered people who participated in the poetry gatherings, and guided everyone to create poems that lamented over the refugees’ suffering to hide with resentment, and ordered people to copy it down to circulate through the country by song, and even chose a bunch of well-learned official historians to compile a history of the twelve dynasties, and point out the worldly matters.

Just like this, at the time the lofty and arrogant immortal cultivators felt it was beneath them to understand the secular customs, the seeds of fire already spread across the land of the twelve dynasties.

The Nine Provinces Private Bank had personally chose the person that would bury them.

Jin Tang dynasty, South Chen dynasty, Qi Qin dynasty, these three strongest dynasties’ emperors on the mainland, secretly gathered together in this moment—— at this time where beacon fires were about to rise and rainstorms already arrived. “How unbelievable, to think that those greatly-talented and boldly- visioned big brothers of mine were unable to participate in this alliance, that it was left to me, this most good-for-nothing youngest son of Bai family to join.” Bai Yi Qing observed all around. He was dressed in a white robe embroidered with gold threads, and his face carried a slight smile, but his gaze had a rarely-seen sorrow.

Alliance of the Three Dynasties.

This was a secret council that South Chen’s forefather exhausted all their strength to push and form at the time his own life was about to reach its end.

As people of the dynasties, everyone knew of the discontent the dynasties had towards the sects, everyone knew that the dynasties would definitely have different movements in secret, however, due to distrust towards other dynasties and fear of the immortal sects, the dynasties, this entire time, could not band together to form a overbearing tide within the dark.

The forefather understood that with merely South Chen’s strength, they had no way of overturning the superior immortals, and thus, he exhausted all his life to work hard to realize the great undertaking of the union.

Finally, when the forefather became old, Qi Qin dynasty, South Chen dynasty, and Jin Tang dynasty’s emperors, for the first time, secretly gathered together.

Before setting out, the forefather secretly left a final will.

If there was an incident halfway while going to the meeting, or they were perceived by the sects, then the martial warriors following the forefather together would kill the forefather and destroy his corpse at the first opportunity. And at the same time, the stand-in that disguised themselves as the forefather in South Chen would announce that they were seriously ill, and choose the next emperor. The circumstances of the first meeting were this dangerous.

The immortal sects’ strength was like the sun in the sky, so the dynasties could only develop with lingering breaths in the dark.

Finally, that meeting that one time succeeded—— the immortal sects did not think that the dynasties had such desperate[6] courage and determination.

It was after that meeting that time, that Jin Tang dynasty put down the seedling plan named “Heaven’s Net”, and South Chen dynasty’s martial warriors travelled over the mainland to release the seals of those out-of- control Eighteen Clans of Old that Jin Tang’s secret guards found- the power of South Chen’s martial warriors originated from the ancient emperors, so their power and the Eighteen Clans’ power was the closest in origins. Qi Qin would invade the Nine Provinces Private Bank day by day, and finally, borrow the ever-present commerce network to provide for all the actions in propping the net that would spread over the lands.

Within the time of several hundreds of years, generation after generation of people transferred their resolution down line, and allowed for the Qing Ming tower within Qi Qin dynasty to change hands today.

In the process, it was not like there weren’t any risks.

The biggest risk appeared in the generation of Chen Yan Yu’s father, Emperor Chen Ying.

The sect leader of Jiu Xuan Sect that time was already Yi He Ping who looked to be the least dangerous.

Yi He Ping perceived a hidden current concealed beneath the calm. So he sent out elders draped in black robes.
And then, because the long great efforts were about to head to its demise, under haste, the dynasty made a mistake. [1] ⽩翼清- bai, for white, yi for wing, and qing, for anything from clear, pure, to distinct and all that can be associated with cleanliness, like nothing.

[2] 秋⽉春悲- the term 春秋 (spring and autumn) more or less refers to all the seasons, a single year, rather than just two (but they are used due to
the importance Chinese literature puts on these two seasons), and may refer to just the turning of the seasons. The only other thing I can come up with is that it could be referencing the expression 伤春悲秋 where it means one feels sorrow and grief over the change of seasons (where the falling of
petals signals the end of spring, and watching as things wither in autumn again makes one sad). Being overly sentimental and sensitive, basically.

[3] temp placement as I think of something for ⽆所作为- accomplish nothing, attempt nothing.

[4] ⽂⼈骚客- the poet portion of the term ( 骚客 ) can also refer to unappreciated men of literature.

[5] ⻓袖善舞- literally read as, long sleeves are advantageous in a dance. Can either mean that with aid, some things can be done more easily. Later
on, likely refers to the resourcefulness of someone to allow for personal benefit.

[6] 孤注⼀掷- to the extent that one will risk everything into one opportunity.

Chapter 177

Chapter One Hundred Seventy-seven, Blood of Emperors, Kong An Floats Upon White. (帝王之⾎, 孔安浮⽩)
Jiu Xuan Sect’s black-robed elders were about to walk into the darkness to grip the dynasty’s throat, so to guarantee these efforts that had persisted for these many years would not go to waste, in the most critical moment, South Chen dynasty’s emperor and Chen Yan Yu’s father, Emperor Chen Ying, sent out trumpet birds carrying two letters separately to Jin Tang dynasty and Qi Qin dynasty’s emperors.

There was only one line on the letter: How could one run away because of life and death?

After receiving the letter, Qi Qin dynasty’s emperor, Bai Yi Qing’s father, and Jin Tang dynasty’s emperor, Ji Bing’s father, secretly left their dynasties, and resolutely headed towards this tall platform in a situation where dangers were all around, and participated in this council of three dynasties held in a dire situation.

When leaving the dynasties, pretty much every emperor was like Forefather Chen back then, leaving a final will.

They, too, made preparations of going without coming back.

In the meeting that time, Chen Ying Emperor proposed a method against Jiu Xuan Sect that could only be called disastrous: Take initiative to expose some things, and draw in the immortal sects’ attention, then sacrifice that portion of strength to blunt the immortal sects’ vigilance to buy time for the final victory.

At the situation that time, that was the only method they could
choose.

But the problem was, what do they sacrifice? Which powers do they
sacrifice?

Each and every one of the people participating in this operation opposing the sects were the dynasties’ brave warriors, their painstaking efforts, the dynasties’ greatest men.

How could they make the decision to have these supports of the dynasties sacrificed?

“Since this suggestion is something I proposed, the sacrifice will start with my South Chen dynasty.” Within the silence, Emperor Chen Ying coldly opened his mouth. He was a man as cold and swift as a heavy sabre, where his five features were like they were whittled down, and below the deep-black eyebrows was a pair of similarly deep-black eyes, “South Chen’s Ying Gong project originally should have employed a secret method to carry out. After returning, I will immediately put orders to let the public know of the construction of the aiding canals, of the dragon of Ying Gong changing the world’s spiritual veins- even if it is Jiu Xuan Sect, they cannot ignore it.”

Once this decision was said out loud, the old teacher of that time standing behind Emperor Chen Ying suddenly changed facial colours, and lowly called out, “Your Majesty”.

The project of Ying Gong was always built in secret all this time. In the plans, the direction of the underdrain truly able to influence spiritual energy had to be exposed once it was finally formed.

If Emperor Chen Ying publicly ordered the construction, the underdrain would be exposed, and after discovering the secret within, Jiu Xuan Sect’s people would definitely not let the Emperor Chen Ying bearing this kind of wild ambition go on.

The mysterious people who draped on long black robes from before would once again walk into Chen dynasty’s capital, and they would be like before, killing Old Chen’s Emperor Chen Xun, killing Emperor Chen Ying.

“South Chen is sacrificing its emperor, is that enough! This price, this sincerity, is it enough!” Chen Ying Emperor lowly shouted. His deep-black pupils’ gaze was so sharp it made people faintly ache, scraping over the silent Qi Qin and Jin Tang emperors’ faces.         “South Chen’s men would rather die than surrender!”

The blood of the forefather back then revived in this man’s body, and his eyes burned with that intense of a flame, just like the giant fires burning Old Chen’s imperial palace back then.

Chen dynasty’s blood, that madman-like bloodline that didn’t spare to sacrifice everything.

After angrily shouting, Emperor Chen Ying stared at his allies sitting across from him, while the old teacher stood to his back, with his hands already placed on the blade—— Chen dynasty could even sacrifice its own emperor, if its allies were to shrink back at this time, the allies would turn into enemies, and they would not hesitate to draw blades and point it towards their former partners.

If a country was sacrificing even their emperor for this stage of blood, then, they had nothing worth hesitating over anymore.

Within the fierce winds, Jin Tang’s emperor lightly laughed, “Don’t look down on people, last-named Chen.”

The emperor with the last name Ji stood up, and looked towards the boundless hills, “It matters not when those people want to take this life of mine, but as long as Heaven’s Net is not completely formed, I cannot die yet, so…… ” He turned his head to look over to his allies.

“My wife, she has two sons. They are the stars of destiny that the Ji clan has divinated, the fate of my Ji clan. They were long sent to the sects, and right now, Jin Tang will sacrifice them!”

The muscles on his face suddenly shook, and very quickly returned to its original appearance, and pretty much growled as he shouted.

“I’ll put down my Ji clan’s fate, then put down my own life later too, is that enough?! Playing with lives huh, you’re not the only one who can do it!”

After Jin Tang’s emperor opened his mouth, a middle-aged man standing by his side who was silent all this time suddenly took one step forward, and half-knelt down, “Everyone, please do not blame Jin Tang. Jin Tang’s imperial clan has difficulties that cannot be said, this lowly one, the Song over Clouds’ Liu family, is willing to head to this journey of death in the stead of our Emperor.”

“Your Majesty, the princes are the Heaven’s Net’s Eyes[1], the princes absolutely cannot have anything happen to them. Allow Liu family make this journey. The Song over Clouds’ Liu family is Jin Tang’s Liu family! The Liu family is willing to sacrifice its life for Jin Tang.”

Jin Tang’s emperor lowly called out “Brother Liu”, and the middle- aged man lowly spoke out, stopping the words that did not get voiced yet.

clap clap clap.

Light sounds of clapping resonated- the Qi Qin emperor sitting at the other side, Bai Yi Qing’s father Bai Jing Tian was lightly clapping his hands, “Since everybody has this kind of vigour and resolution, this lowly one cannot lag behind, isn’t that right.”

Bai Jing Tian slightly smiled, and spoke casually, “My Qi Qin dynasty doesn’t have much, commerce expands so freely, yet never had any relations with my Bai clan. Since this little brother is incapable, then I will imitate Brother Chen’s actions, and let those people take away this life of mine.”

“From this day forth, on the soils of Qi Qin dynasty, the Ferrying Crows and the martial warriors will obtain full support and safeguard!”

Once these firm words fell down, the alliance opened up a new
chapter.

And it was from that day on, that the three dynasties’ power truly
united together. The trumpet birds flew around, the Ferrying Crows’ shadows were present everywhere, while the long blades of the martial warriors commanded by Du Ya flagrantly flew all around.

“Come.”        The youngest emperor, Qi Qin’s Bai Jing Tian stood up on the tall platform, opened up his hands, and embraced the incoming strong winds. “Let us use our blood, and give rise to this tide of anger.”

He laughed out loud.

The sounds of laughter were torn and swept by the winds.

This was a secret historical event that the later generations were unable to record down, and yet, it was from this day forth that the era’s biggest opposing tidal waves reached a close-to-capsizing critical state with the dynasties’ emperors’ blood. The three extremely-talented and resolute emperors left the place of the council, and headed towards the fate they decided upon.

That year, the scheme underneath Ying Gong’s project was exposed. In the snowy night of the midwinter, elders draped in black robes walked into South Chen dynasty’s capital, and the wildly ambitious Emperor Chen Ying died to sudden death within the winter night of snow chaotically drifting about.

And just around that time, Jin Tang dynasty happened with a shocking upheaval. Jin Tang’s prestigious family, Song over Clouds’ Liu family was purged, and the Liu family head’s severed head was personally presented by Jin Tang’s emperor to the black-robed person who came in the night.

When the raging fires were not yet extinguished at Liu family’s ancestral temple, Jin Tang’s emperor looked at the head of the man who once saved himself, and was as intimate as brothers, with his face neither joyous nor grieving.

Only hatred and rage surged and roared within the bloodline of this madman-like family.

That year, Liu Wu Yan was sent out of the capital by her big brother, and that refined noble young lord with the world in his heart back then put on a hideous mask, and was called “Mr. Yan” since.

Bai Jing Tian who left the council to return to the country secretly called his own eldest and youngest sons into his sleeping chambers, then entered a conversation that no one knew of.

And not long after that, Bai Jing Tian also died, with the reason for death unknown.

The newly ascended crown prince was full of wild ambitions, and the Nine Provinces Private Bank killed him out of fear, and pushed Bai family’s least visible and threatening Bai Yi Qing up to the throne.

The death of two emperors was exchanged for the Nine Provinces Private Bank lowering their guard, and after Bai Yi Qing ascended the throne, Jin Tang dynasty corroded the Private Bank.

All these things that would not be written into historical records were concealed within the darkness, and once lifted off, revealed a viscous bloodiness- that much dreariness and helplessness, gathering into an eternal wrath by the end.

They gathered here for the flames of war. Within Qi Qin dynasty, the devouring of the Nine Provinces Private Bank advanced very quickly, but the only one hard to take down was the Private Bank’s main establishment in the city headed by and defended by the Nine Provinces Private Bank’s sect leader and some elders.

To guarantee that the dynasty was able to possess the most stable rear-end in this battle, and avoid losing even more power at the same time, South Chen dynasty’s martial warriors would bring a fragment of the Three Wise Emperors’ Map into that city that symbolized the Nine Provinces Private Bank’s glory, and just before South Chen’s martial warriors entered inside, Jin Tang’s Ferrying Crows would spread a poisonous drug that could only be refined from Cang Pu’s mountains’ countless precious poisonous plants through a hundred years.

Poisoning, assassination, agents.

For a military commander, these would no doubt look to be inglorious and despicable means, however, a battle of mortals going against immortals, from the very start, had no fairness to speak of. For the final victory, one could only use all means possible.

Immortal sects would soon spread out its retaliation, and thus, inside Qi Qin dynasty’s borders, the Eighteen Clans’ out-of-control people who lived on from the era of Chaos used the quickest speed to open up the ancient emperor’s burial grounds connected with the Qing Ming tower, and drew out the ancient emperor’s strength to transform the dynasty’s army.

This kind of change would be irreversible- the lifespan of the soldiers that accept the transformation would be shortened a lot, and in the process of transformation, there was also a risk of losing control. There was a possibility that the soldiers would lose their reasoning, and once the transformation failed, the failures would be directly killed right there and then.

Each soldier who accepted the transformation with the ancient emperor’s strength, had wrote their wills down long ago. They were the dynasty’s commoners, they were people who once lost their belongings and homes, who once saw the big stretches of farmlands planted with ling zhi, who were people that witnessed their own family die.

Hatred would soon bestow them with power.

And apart from this, there were also other schemes soon to open up.

Since the immortal sects’ power was lofty and superior, then, just let the immortals face an even more superior power.

“When Jiu Xuan’s elders leave the mountains, the fog raptors slumbering underground would soon return, and then, no one would be able to stop the Nine Provinces Private Bank’s destruction.”     Chen Yan Yu said.

Kong An, by not inquiring into the matters beneath the sky their entire lives, could calmly float by as a commoner.
[1] 天眼- in Buddhism, this term refers to the eyes of the gods.

Chapter 178

The weather forecast here is predicting record-breaking temps the entire weekend so please forgive me if there are more mistakes than normal.

Chapter One Hundred Seventy-eight, Tai Shang’s Qiu Sheng, Falling Apart Into Pieces. (太上秋⽣, 分崩离析)
“Kong An, Kong An, by not inquiring into the matters beneath the sky all one’s life, one could calmly float by as a commoner.”

Sitting on the high peak of a mountain was an elderly person draped in shabby outer robes holding a jar of wine. That was the person who was called a “shitty old man” by Ye Qiu Sheng. His hair was all a mess, and his face was filled with wrinkles engraved from the flow of time, where those wrinkles seemed like it hid with many secrets inside. The elderly person’s lapel was half-opened, and the barren chest emitted a red colour from having consumed alcohol.

The elderly person sat at one of Tai Shang Sect’s mountain peaks, and sat within the boundless flying snow, with his clothes all tattered and worn, like an inconspicuous homeless person. However, this elderly person who was just like a homeless person in the snow did not fear the severe cold, and before the snow falling down could even touch him, it turned into white vapour.

While swaying the jar of wine, the elderly person lowly recited that line from the poem talking about that executive with a heart for the civilians, and looked at the extending mountain ranges. Tai Shang Sect was closest to the far north of the Eight Immortal Sects other than Yu Shou Sect, located within the snowy ranges in the northern region of Tu Qi dynasty. This place retained many of the snowy mountains that formed in the distant past, where the frosty snow that accumulated for tens of thousands of years pressed together, and finally formed into a deep-blue layer of ancient ice.

When sunlight shined on the top of these mountains, the ancient ice layer would reflect with a faint, dream-like light, cold yet beautiful.

There were very few times in the year that this place would not having snow falling down. The white hazy snow would fall eternally along with the wind without rest, falling down from the ancient Savage Era all the way until the current one, like it was to be this way until the very ends of time.

The place the snowy ranges were at was thick with frosty airs of the world, so thick it was like it constantly had a small knife made of ice entering the gaps of the bones- and from how outsiders saw it, for the people of Tai Shang Sect who stayed in this kind of place, once it turned long, they would be just like ice, bearing the face of a dead person all day long.

However, only the people of Tai Shang Sect themselves knew- whatever it was about being just like ice, all was taken out to deceive the outsiders. As the front of the immortal cultivators, which one of the Eight Immortal Sects didn’t bear the demeanour of sages and immortals? And to not be seen as lower by other immortal sects, in front of outsiders, Tai Shang Sect’s disciples would be draped in Taoist robes, all to put up an appearance that was as cold as icicles.

And then in reality, Tai Shang Sect’s people were actually a bunch of war-like drunkards.

Tai Shang Sect was located in these frosty mountains that could have immortal cultivators frozen to the point their teeth shivered- other than those isolated almighty beings, which of the disciples did not go by their days shivering? With the cold weather being enveloped in the aura of snow all year long, the sect’s elders, to train the disciples, did not even allow them to bring a stove into the sect- to put it in nice words, it was to temper the physical body, but in truth, it was just bad taste.

In this kind of situation, hard liquor became an indispensable item in warming oneself.

With a drink of a heated knife-like hard liquor, the alcohol’s taste would surge up, and if there was some quarrel, then directly using fists and feet to solve it would be no more ordinary of a matter.

The unattainable, sage-like Tai Shang Sect in the other people’s eyes was this kind of place.

Except, though Tai Shang Sect’s drunkards may be many, those who dared to drink liquor at the sacred snowy mountaintop, within the entire sect, was only one person.

And that was Ye Qiu Sheng’s master- that messy-haired, shabby- clothed shitty old man that in Ye Qiu Sheng’s memories, was always half- drunk and never awake and sleepy-eyed.

Shitty old man was only what Ye Qiu Sheng called him- in Tai Shang Sect, everyone would call him Elder. No matter if it was a small disciple who just entered the sect or the other elders, even including the sect leader, this was how they called him.

As for what the shitty old man was actually called, and exactly what kind of elder they were, other than that bunch of people in the highest level of the sect, not one of the other sect disciples knew.

“Elder.”

Just as the shitty old man had one leg up and laid on the floor while watching the snowy peaks and drinking wine, Tai Shang Sect’s sect leader, Yun Zi Mo[1] who was dressed in deep-blue outer robes slowly walked up, and his hands held a jar of wine. Tai Shang Sect’s Sect Leader Yun Zi Mo did not really look like a drunkard, instead, he fitted the way the outside saw Tai Shang Sect more, with a face very lean, and always being stern, carrying a kind of cold, sharp expression that was just like a knife. When one saw him coming over, you would feel like a blade of ice was coming through, cutting up the world.

However, this kind of person was very respectful in front of the shabbily-dressed shitty old man.

“Zi Mo, drink.” The shitty old man’s arm was propped on the ground, propping his head, and did not turn to look at Yun Zi Mo who walked up, and continued looking at the rising and falling snowy peaks and ridges.

off. Yun Zi Mo sat down cross-legged by his side, and took the jar’s lid

“Kong An, Yan Zhen. When fiction becomes the truth, the truth also turns into fiction[2]. Hah, I’ve really gotten old. I’ve been shrewd for this long, but in the end, got deceived by a younger one.” The shitty old man swayed the jar, and suddenly laughed.

Kong An, the genius of Tai Shang Sect back then. Not long after he turned famous, on a day drifting with snow, he changed his name to Yan Zhen, and left Tai Shang Sect with the sect’s secret orders, heading towards South Chen dynasty. Later on, he became South Chen dynasty’s prefectural administrator, guarding Yan Men Prefecture that had an ancient secret, and died in Yan Men Prefecture in the end.

In the eyes of the sect’s elders, they were a gifted disciple who sacrificed themselves for the sect.

All this time, this was what they thought. Inside Tai Shang Sect’s secret memorial temple, his spiritual tablet was still standing there too- before all the disciples that were sent off to carry important missions left the sect, they would be lead into that secret memorial temple located beneath the sacred snowy peak by one of the sect’s important elders, and light up countless everlasting candles. Within the light of the everlasting candles, the elder would talk about the stories of these sect’s heroes to the younger generation, and say, they were all the sect’s most excellent disciples.

Like this, the flames of heroes, in this kind of candlelight and description, would be planted inside the young disciples’ souls.

However, just a few days ago, along with that elder in charge of scripture’s exposure, the sect had to painfully start going back to survey these slumbering sect’s heroes. That elder in charge of scriptures was Kong An’s junior. He calmly committed suicide, however, his identity still made the sect have to start investigating the long-dead Kong An.

Qi Qin dynasty’s upheaval already made one thing clear- the actions pointing against the sects already spread open at a time very, very long ago.

Back when Kong An left, they carried the task of suppressing the era of Chaos’ Eighteen Clans’ out-of-control person underneath Yan Men Prefecture, and yet now, the figures of the “demons” already joined this battle between the dynasties and the immortal sects. The responsibilities that Kong An bore back then was very important, and after going through painstaking layers of searches, Tai Shang Sect had to painfully recognize one matter.

That extremely gifted and youngest elder of Tai Shang, was certainly one of the dynasty’s people.

That name that Tai Shang Sect thought was a fake name, Yan Zhen, was actually his real name.

“The later generations are quite fearsome.” The shitty old man said, “Jin Tang, Qi Qin, and South Chen’s emperors are not considered all that old, surely? Some young people personally rose up a overbearing tide that even an old man like me changes colours to, even if it they are of the opposite standing, one cannot help but give respect to them.”

Yun Zi Mo did not say anything. He was a silent person of few words, so he only drank wine one sip after another, and after a long time, then opened his mouth, “What do you plan on doing with that child’s matters.”

The wine jar in the shitty old man’s hands was placed on the floor.

Yun Zi Mo did not say “that child’s” name, but the two were very well aware—— it was Tai Shang Sect’s current eldest disciple brother, Ye Qiu Sheng.

In regards to Ye Qiu Sheng’s true identity, Yun Zi Mo was one of the people in this world who knew of the inside story.

That was a cooperation, a cooperation between Jiu Xuan Sect and Tai Shang Sect.

At the time a definite majority of people were unaware, the top people of these sects already faintly felt that gradually approaching and unfathomable danger.

Emperor Chen Ying’s time, was one of the moments that the immortal sects was closest to the true face of that danger. But at that time, Jin Tang, Qi Qin, and South Chen’s emperors’ reactions were far too fast, and just when the immortal sects were on alert, they already resorted to the most effective way to cut their losses[3], abandoning the pawn to save the rook.

One had to say, that was a very effective method- at least, this way, even if there were more suspicions inside the immortal sects, on the surface, they had no way of taking any further measures.

However, the sect leader of Jiu Xuan Sect at that time, Yi He Ping, was not deceived by this kind of false impression. He went to Tai Shang Sect all by himself, and after a secret investigation with Tai Shang Sect’s sect leader as well as several of Tai Shang’s important elders, Tai Shang Sect and Jiu Xuan Sect reached a cooperation.

Jin Tang’s Heaven’s Net was expanding. They could not peer into the entirety of Heaven’s Net, but in that turbulence, Jiu Xuan Sect used their own methods to take hold of some information, that Jin Tang would also put up two extraordinary Ji clan children into this gamble.

What Jiu Xuan Sect and Tai Shang Sect wanted to do, was to find those two children called Ji clan’s destiny.

They succeeded by one half.

In Yun Zi Mo’s memories, not long after the sect leader of Tai Shang Sect paid a visit, the shitty old man also secretly left the sect.

One month later, he brought back Ye Qiu Sheng who was only just an infant at that time.

In truth, according to the original plans, Ye Qiu Sheng was to be disposed of in this massacre. Only, in the moment before he brandished his blade, the shitty old man let out a sigh.

For the fate of the sect, using despicable methods like assassination was originally not considered righteous anymore. To lay hands on an unsuspecting and ignorant infant for the fault of the adults’ world, would be more so something that a man should not do.

So, in the end, the shitty old man brought Ye Qiu Sheng back to Tai Shang Sect, and gave him a name.

Ye Qiu Sheng’s original name should have been Ji Gui Yun. He was the child that Jin Tang’s imperial clan viewed as a child of hope.

This was the secret that very few people of the sect originally knew, but in the time they were investigating the matter with Kong An, Ye Qiu Sheng’s identity was also dragged out along with it.

Now, there were many discussion inside the sect, neither one convincing either side, all regarding the problem with Ye Qiu Sheng’s identity.

Just that, the sect’s elders and the leader did not express an attitude towards this matter the entire time, and maintained a rather strange silence. “That stinky brat Qiu Sheng’s going to return in a few days, isn’t he.” The shitty old man asked.

“The news over from Tian Ji Valley states as such. Bai Li Shu already came out from the shadow plane, so they will soon be leaving Tian Ji Valley.” Yun Zi Mo was still of that stern expression.

“Then it’ll be alright.”

The shitty old man casually tossed the jar of wine from the high mountaintop, then stood up, lifted his head, and coldly laughed.

“Want to make my Tai Shang fall apart into pieces? Dream on!”

[1] 云⼦莫- yun, for clouds, zi, for all its applicability and range of definitions, chances are, it’s not going to mean young/child/son, but likely
the first of the twelve Earthly Branches, which coincides with the hours 11pm to 1 am. Mo, means no one, none, or nothing.

[2] 假做真时真亦假(,⽆为有时有还⽆)- if you take fiction as truth, as time goes on, fiction goes on to be the truth, and the truth would become
fiction. Taken from the Dream of Red Mansions. The line following goes deeper, in that when nothing becomes something, the something also becomes nothing.
[3] 断尾求⽣- the expression is, to cut the tail in order to survive.

Chapter 179

Chapter One Hundred Seventy Nine, Person of Tai Shang, Underneath Daybreak. (太上之⼈, 天光之下)
Ye Qiu Sheng sat on top of the railings of the cliff path.

Tian Ji Valley was located within obscure deep mountains and giant valleys, where white waters circled underneath the thousand-ren steep cliffs, turbulently flowing and striking into the rigid cliffs, and letting out loud echos of the crashes. Mist scattered and sprayed up, and within the stretch of vapour, flying birds would pass by. This was a secretive place that outsiders could not enter, while each and every one of Tian Ji Valley’s disciples were all secretive and mysterious as well.

Tian Ji Valley’s people were not that attentive in attending Tai Shang Sect’s eldest disciple brother Ye Qiu Sheng. These Tian Ji Valley disciples that were draped in white cloaks and hoods that always hid their faces, so when getting along with people or handling matters, had a kind of faint indifference to them.

They proclaimed to be people that looked on the black and white pieces as outsiders, and disdained speaking with people because they watched the circulation of Heaven’s will.

But this was only what was said- in reality, it was just bullshit.

Tian Ji Valley was also an immortal sect of the twelve dynasties, an immortal sect that was located upon this true and genuine land, then, there was never a bullshit thing such as not being a part of matter. If not, why would they appear within the fog of the early morning like ghosts, and why would that aged Boyikh tribe’s a’Sa draw his blade out without a care for the risks in that black imperial city.

Each person was an insignificant pawn in this board game of destiny. wine. Ye Qiu Sheng lifted his head up, and poured down a mouthful of The water turning around underneath the thousand-ren cliff lashed into the hard stone wall, letting out loud crashes, and the mist came up rolling, where even the plank road was enveloped in this hazy humidity.

Ye Qiu Sheng sat within this hazy white mist with a seldom expressionless look, and put up one leg on the railing, with the right hand holding the blade placed on his knee, while the left hand held a jar of wine.

That was the last jar of hard liquor he had left in his own ring.

This bunch of mysterious and shady bastards of Tian Ji Valley was just like Bai Li Shu, and did not drink wine. The liquor that Ye Qiu Sheng brought, was the one that their Tai Shang Sect brewed by themselves. Tai Shang Sect’s alcohol had no taste to speak of- in that place of icy skies and snowy grounds, the standard for good wine was that it was strong.

So strong when one drank it, it was just like a ball of fire wrapped in knives rolling down.

That kind of strong.

Ye Qiu Sheng drank this kind of strong liquor big mouthful after big mouthful, sitting atop this thousand-ren steep cliff, like pouring down plain boiled water. There was no expression whatsoever on his face.

When the strong liquor poured down the throat like fire, the blood could also burn, and the soul could also scorch up. However, Ye Qiu Sheng had no feeling to it whatsoever—— he only felt it was icy cold. Qi Qin dynasty’s Nine Provinces Private Bank completely burned in big fires, the dynasties’ armies were building up, and the “demons” from the Eighteen Clans of Old that should have been long sealed and forgotten by the people and the world reappeared on the land of the twelve dynasties…… that many news, in that short of a time, was able to turn the world that the people were familiar with totally upside down.

These matters were originally things that he faintly knew about.

In that long of a time before, he busied around on the land of the twelve dynasties for the entire year, doing that many things that could not see the day of light, was it not to prevent these things?

But right now, Ye Qiu Sheng already no longer wanted to care about these messy things.

His world was actually just that little bit, in truth, it was not that big.

He was Ye Qiu Sheng, Tai Shang Sect’s Ye Qiu Sheng. He grew up in Tai Shang Sect, and grew up in the frosty winds that might even scrape people’s skin off. He was Tai Shang Sect’s eldest disciple brother.

Whatever dynasties, whatever commoners, whatever justice of the world, had nothing to do with him.

He busied about while going through thick and thin to go around the lands for that many years, only because he was Tai Shang’s eldest disciple brother, Tai Shang Sect’s disciple. Tai Shang Sect needed him to become the sect’s eyes, so he brought his blade, and walked into the boundless night, and put on disguise after disguise while travelling around.

Only because he was a person of Tai Shang Sect.

It was a reason as simple as this, a matter as simple as that.

In Gua Province’s Ghost City, within the faint yellow flames, he told Bai Li Shu, he had no father or mother, and because he was picked up by the shitty old man on an autumn day, he would be called Ye Qiu Sheng. But he really only felt envious, but did not feel it wasn’t something bad. He did not parents, but it did not matter all that much.

Tai Shang Sect was his family. And those disciple brothers and sisters who made an uproar wanting to fight with him were his siblings.

Ye Qiu Sheng’s world, had always been like this.

But now, all of a sudden, someone told him, you are actually not called Ye Qiu Sheng, you actually have a name. Your surname is Ji, one of Jin Tang dynasty’s honoured princes, and just when you were born, you were turned into a pawn planned to be sent to Jiu Xuan Sect to become a seed. The shitty old man you complain about all the time killed those people who brought you towards Jiu Xuan Sect from the dynasty, but in the end, let you remain.

“Fuck.” Ye Qiu Sheng lowly cursed out.

Why couldn’t the shitty old man be more straightforward back then?

He was only just a person that was seen as a pawn to be thrown out by his biological parents, what was flowing in his veins was the enemy’s blood- to cut down grass, one needed to pull out its roots, why couldn’t that drunk shitty old man understand?

Has the shitty old man gotten old? Why couldn’t that blade be drawn back then?

Since it couldn’t be drawn, then hide everything properly.

Now, everything was suddenly pulled out again, what was it now!

Making people nurse grievances to the point they wanted to find someone to fight, yet only able to take the blade and cut towards the air that had nothing at all.

When he lifted his head up again, Ye Qiu Sheng discovered that the jar was already emptied. He cursed, then tossed the jar of wine down the thousand-ren steep cliff. The jar of wine tossed and turned, hitting the hard stone, and broke apart in midair, and finally drowned in the white hazy mist.

The sounds were swallowed by the crashing sounds of water, without any traces left.

Once the jar was swallowed by the water, Ye Qiu Sheng suddenly quieted down.

He vacantly watched the eternally unchanging water.

From the news that Tai Shang Sect sent over, Ye Qiu Sheng could not see what kind of attitude they held. It only notified him to return. At the time each sect was purging the spies, Tai Shang Sect…… just what was the shitty old man and the others planning to do? What kind of gaze would those sect-mates who once drank their fill and curse how the elders were spiteful together use to look at him?

Could he still steal the elders’ alcohol with others in the heavy snow together? Could he still go together to the back mountain’s confinement cliff while cursing in between?

Ye Qiu Sheng closed his eyes.

He then discovered, he had clearly left the sect for that long, but he could still distinctly remember what Tai Shang Sect looked like.

Stretching and continuous snowy peaks, white snow that fell down since the ancient era until now, ancient ice that would reflect with a faint ice-blue colour in the early morning’s sunlight, disciples that would group into twos or threes with arms over shoulders while walking on the stone steps, that eternally half-drunk and half-awake shitty old man……

So distinct it made people want to cry.

That was Tai Shang Sect, that was his Tai Shang Sect. That was…… his family.

Ye Qiu Sheng opened his eyes, dumbfounded and at a loss. He had always thought, he still had a family. But now, he did not know.
“Ye Qiu Sheng.”

A familiar, indifferent voice that couldn’t be discerned of feelings resounded to his back.

Bai Li Shu slowly walked out along the cliff road, while his hands held that familiar gold longbow—— except, that longbow seemed to have some changes to it, but since it was enveloped in gold light, one could not see clearly.

Ye Qiu Sheng turned to look at him ..

Bai Li Shu was still of that old look- not only could one not hear any emotions from his voice, even his face had no expression. He was still dressed in snow-white robes, and his eyes seemed like it was a deep sea sealed with ice, where the ice on the surface of the sea was able to reflect a person’s figure, but as for what concerns were hidden beneath the sea, no one knew.
Ye Qiu Sheng’s face hung with that usual lax and frivolous smile. “So Lord Bai Li has come, sorry, sorry, to think that I didn’t sense it
at the first moment. Let’s go, we should be on the move.”       As he said this, Ye Qiu Sheng swiftly jumped down from the railing, and turned to walk in the direction out of the valley.

He held his blade, while his mouth hummed a light tune, loose and indulgent, so carefree it was like they were not someone with concerns.

“I do not know of a Ji Gui Yun.” Bai Li Shu’s voice transmitted from the back. It was very calm, without any ripples to it, just like it was stating a very plain and ordinary matter.

Ji Gui Yun. When Ye Qiu Sheng heard these three words, the tune he was humming suddenly stopped. He faced Bai Li Shu with his back, held his blade, and stood on the narrow cliff-side road, not moving at all.

Winds swept up from the ravine underneath, carrying mist and humidity.

“I only know a Ye Qiu Sheng.” Bai Li Shu lightly said. He walked forward neither quickly or slowly with his longbow, and passed by Ye Qiu Sheng’s shoulders. “He is Tai Shang Sect’s eldest disciple brother.”

The instant he passed by his shoulders, Ye Qiu Sheng heard him say
this.

The sounds of wind suddenly went far off, and Ye Qiu Sheng lifted
his head up, then let out a “hah”, and briefly smiled.

He stood in his original spot, and that young man who scrunched up his body all alone in the karst cave opened his eyes. That unshakable coldness quietly weakened a slight bit…… listen, someone told you, they only know a Ye Qiu Sheng, not some bullshit prince of Jin Tang, nor some damned Ji Gui Yun……

Only Tai Shang’s eldest disciple brother, Ye Qiu Sheng!

Underneath the boundless and indistinct skies, Ye Qiu Sheng let out a hysterical laughter.

He laughed with so much strength, his voice flew towards the boundless canopy of Heaven.

The white-robed young man who already walked in front of him stopped in his steps, and turned to calmly look at him.

“Let’s go, let’s go.”    After Ye Qiu Sheng stopped laughing out loud, he revealed a frivolous and lax smile towards Bai Li Shu, while his features carried an impudence. “Even Qi Qin’s in chaos, a play this big, how could one miss out?”

“Let’s go.” Bai Li Shu looked at him for a while, then spoke.

After leaving Tian Ji Valley, they would have to head in different directions. Bai Li Shu would return to Jiu Xuan Sect, while Ye Qiu Sheng would return to Tai Shang Sect.

While watching Bai Li Shu’s figure turning to leave, Ye Qiu Sheng suddenly called out, “Lord Bai Li.”

Bai Li Shu stopped, and turned to look at him.

The sun already moved to the very centre at this time. Within the dazzling light, the young man dressed in white robes was very thin, as graceful as an immortal. Ye Qiu Sheng’s face still carried a bit of the lax smile, but his voice turned into a seldom solemn tone, “Thank you.”

Bai Li Shu nodded his head.

This time, they no longer said any nonsense.

The Bai Li Shu carrying his longbow headed towards Jiu Xuan Sect, while Ye QIu Sheng who carried his blade headed towards Tai Shang Sect.

They no longer stopped, and no longer turned their head back, heading towards this blood-coloured fate.

The heavens and earth were boundless and indistinct. Since the ancient times to the present, all the people holding blades and swords always walked onto the battlefield on some afternoon with the sun just right.

End of Volume Two.

Chapter 180

At the time winds scraped by Qi Qin dynasty’s lands, outside Jiu Xuan Sect’s gates, Yi He Ping led the sect’s elders-in-name, and stood above the Connecting Heaven staircase, quietly waiting around.

Within the bunch of elders, there were some familiar faces that were gone, for example, Li Range’s Elder Qin—— Elder Qin had already isolated for quite a while now. But similarly, there were some more young faces, and He Zhou was one of them. If Jun Wan Bai, Half-crazed Li, and Chu Zhi Yuan were standing here, they would definitely feel astonished.

He Zhou was draped in long black robes, and the surface of the robes used dark-gold threads to embroider Xuan Li Peak’s symbols, while his waist hung a thin yet elegant blade. There was no smile on his face, and each line was taut, pulling out a chilling aura. Right now, he no longer looked to be like a youthful, vigorous, young generation of the sect that would draw their blades out when they got angry and get in fights with other people.

He certainly looked to be an elder now.

Elders and disciples were of a different world- in between them, was an invisible, yet realistically existing boundary.

A so-called elder, not only meant that from then on, he was a person within the sect that held power, but more so meant…… starting from when he draped on the black robes that symbolized an elder’s status, he would no longer be a disciple that stayed ignorant, and would be protected by the sect. Starting from that day he draped on the black robes, he would turn from a disciple that was being protected, into a person that protected the disciples.

When He Zhou became the sect’s young disciplinary elder, it was not like the sect did not have any opposing voices.

The one who opposed the strongest, were the sect’s founding elders that just ended their state of isolation, and once again held blades and swords for the sect. Of which, was a person that even Yi He Ping needed to respectfully call Uncle.

The sect’s founding elder that even Yi He Ping needed to call “Uncle” was filled with wrinkles on his face, with a hunched back, and when talking, he would always occasionally cough- when he just came out of isolation, he went around inside the sect, with his face always hanging a smile, and occasionally gave the sect’s disciples advice on their sword techniques and skills, and looked to not have much of a haughty air, nor did he seem like he possessed some scary, divine almighty power.

However, it was precisely this elderly person that looked like someone’s plain and ordinary old grandpa in some small town who, at the time Yi He Ping announced to let He Zhou who successfully inherited Guan Zhi Yu’s remaining blade be a sect elder, stood within Jade Harmony Pavilion’s main hall, then in front of everybody’s faces, boiled with anger and scolded Jiu Xuan Sect’s leader Yi He Ping with a bunch of curse words.

When he got angry, the skies and clouds outside the Jade Harmony Pavilion abruptly transformed, cold winds rustled, while lightning intertwined, and a muffled thunder akin to the vast might of the heavens echoed along with his angry scolding.

In the end, the cane in his hands heavily hit towards the ground, and he spoke in a stern voice, “Us old bones haven’t even completely died out, this sky hasn’t even collapsed yet, and even if the sky did collapse, it isn’t this shitty little brat’s turn to go prop it up either!”

“Talk about it again when us old bones all die out!”
By the end, he was pretty much roaring, with his voice like muffled thunder.

All the lanterns inside the Jade Harmony Pavilion were long already put out by the wrath of this almighty being. Inside the dimmed world, everyone just silently stood there, no one said anything, only leaving the elderly person’s gasping sound. The other founding elders did not say anything, but their silence already expressed their own attitudes—— on that day, those standing in the Jade harmony Pavilion were all people who knew of many things.

All people who knew what the black robes represented, and symbolized.

War could no longer be avoided, but to let the youth draw blades out so early, and walk onto that unpredictable and constantly changing battlefield, letting the young who originally should be of a spirited look carry a heavy, hard-to-rid-of responsibility, without a doubt, was a kind of cruelty.

Yi He Ping went silent for a very long time.

His face did not have a single bit of discontent from being scolded so much in front of everyone. As Yi He Ping listened to the founding elder’s reprimand, he suddenly thought back to He Qing Chuan again. He Qing Chuan…… the person who lowly called him “Senior” in the very end. If he were to know at this time that he wanted to send his only son into battle, what kind of reaction would he have? Back then, when he decided to sacrifice Bing Province’s Qing Ming tower’s disciples, He Qing Chuan’s expression was that furious, and pretty much wanted to draw out that heavy sabre of his to get in a fight with him.

So, if he knew, he would definitely cut down his head immediately.

While thinking to these, Yi He Ping wanted to laugh a bit.

And yet in truth, he could not even smile.

He Qing Chuan already died at the Mausoleum, along with Senior. And so, in this world, there would no longer be anybody who would angrily criticize him, and there would no longer be anybody who would want to draw blades out to fight with him.

Yi He Ping quietly listened to his uncle’s reprimand, and after he stopped, lightly coughed, and wanted to speak.

And then, at this time, one person walked into the Jade Harmony Pavilion.

It was He Zhou with his waist hung with that cold blade.

When He Zhou walked in, Yi He Ping had that one instance where he felt like he saw He Qing Chuan’s figure in his body. As though within a single night, that young person who would once act resentful because of Bai Li Shu’s sudden appearance already turned into an adult. His shoulders already emerged with a look like it could carry heavy burdens. He Zhou knelt down within the big hall, and seriously kowtowed a few times towards all the elders.

When he lifted his head up, the outraged founding elder saw his gaze.

That was a gaze of resolve.

“Please allow this young one to become one of Jiu Xuan’s elders.” He Zhou drew the cold blade out, and pierced it into the floor. He gripped the blade, with a shocking aura of might seeping out from his body. The voice of this young man who was originally ill-tempered, arrogant and troublesome turned steady at this time, and turned resolute, like a man’s.

“This young one is willing to devote the labour of dogs and horses for Jiu Xuan!”
He said in a low voice. Though the sound was low, it was like metal and steel colliding with each other.

“Labour of dogs and horses, my ass!” The founding elder broke out in profanities, and was so angry he started stomping with his feet, “With your shallow skills, you think you can already compare with us old bones?”

He Zhou did not say anything, and he stood up, then pulled out his blade.

With a flip of the wrist, the cold blade drew out an arc in the dim Jade Harmony Pavilion, while the edge of the blade was angled towards the founding elder. The young man holding the blade lowered his head, and the aura on his body suddenly rose up, and the atmosphere seemed as though there was an ancient large bell being struck with a loud crash, and the pressure from that era so distant from today came through—— in that instant, everyone felt that the person standing in the center of the hall was no longer a young Jiu Xuan Sect disciple, but……

But that brave warrior from the era of Chaos that drew their blade out and rushed towards the ancient emperors’ thrones.

Those brave warriors’ figures intermingled with the shadows of history, they brandished blades, they turned around, they howled. They all advanced forward without turning back.

“I ask that the elders please fulfill this.”
He Zhou’s words, were elegant and powerful.

This young person drew out their blade, and used their own strength to prove that he already had enough qualifications to become one of the members that once “the heavens collapsed, could help prop up”.

“Han Yu Blade[1].”

The founding elder’s facial colour suddenly changed, and he dejectedly took one step back, and no longer said a word of opposition.

Han Yu Blade- that was a sacred item of the Guan clan from the Eighteen Clans of Old back then. Just like Liao clan’s Xiu Shen Blade. Generation after generation, once the person from the Guan clan died, their soul would return inside this blade, and transform into Han Yu’s strength. The person who inherited this blade, they themselves were of the Guan clan of the Eighteen Clans, and generation after generation, the ancestors’ power would surge, awaken, and roar in their veins.

However……

As long as one inherited this blade, the soul of the person holding it would no longer belong to themselves.

It would belong to the blade.

Once he died, he would be like his ancestors- the soul would be sealed within the blade, without an afterlife, nor a part of reincarnation any longer.

“His mother, is Guan Zhi Yu.”
Within the silence, Yi He Ping lightly spoke up.

No one said anything any longer, and He Zhou—— in truth, one should already call him Guan Zhou —— received that black robe for elders woven with Xuan Li Peak’s symbols from Yi He Ping’s hands, lightly shook it, spread it out, and draped it on his body.

Since then, Jiu Xuan Sect no longer had an arrogant representative disciple of Xuan Li Peak, but a serious and reserved Xuan Li Peak elder.

The generation of the young, had already stepped onto the battlefield.

◈◈◈

Winds scraped by noisily.

He Zhou’s waist hung with the Han Yu Blade, and his gaze fell to the Retaining Immortal Platform not far from the side of the gates, and suddenly recalled how when Bai Li Shu came out of isolation after five years, Yi He Ping let Bai Li Shu lead them towards the Medicine Valley. That time, the disciples standing on the Retaining Immortal Platform still did not know that there would be that many things happening later on, and the few representative disciples were still not seeing eye-to-eye.

At that time, Shen Chang Ge was also there.

Everyone was making a great fuss, and nobody knew that there would be this kind of day.

Shen Chang Ge became a traitor of the sect, and was no longer seen after that matter at Bing Province’s Qiu Huang tower. Jun Wan Bai, Half-crazed Li, and Chu Zhi Yuan went off to the far Mausoleum of Ten Million to take the legendary imperial map, Qin Jiu was still in isolation at present, while the other disciple brothers and sisters were buried at Bing Province. There were some that were sent back by that Nine Provinces Private Bank’s Fatty Liao, and there were some whose bones were still somewhere unknown.

And at that time, there was nobody who would think, Jiu Xuan Sect would…… would have one day where their own blades and swords would point towards those of the same sect.

In those days of guarding Xuan Li Peak, Xuan Li Peak that was in charge of enforcement was the final place one took care of the traitors and spies.

At that time, He Zhou then understood the meaning of this identity of an “elder” one step further.

Disciples, were the young. The young people’s world was spirited, black and white, right and wrong, and clearly distinctive. However, the elders’ world was not the same. Elders were adults, and the adult’s world was flooded with helplessness, flooded with no alternatives, it was hard to understand, and also grey.

Every time Han Yu took away a familiar face’s life, He Zhou would more deeply understand this principle once again.

“They’ve come.”
Standing in front, Yi He Ping suddenly lightly spoke up.

He Zhou restrained his state of mind, and looked towards the direction they were waiting in.

On top of the Connecting Heaven staircase coiled by white clouds, one person slowly passed through the clouds and mist, and walked up here.

That person was dressed in snow-white long robes, while the sleeves were blowing about like cranes flying by the Connecting Heaven staircase’s swift and fierce winds. That person’s figure was lean, and their hands held a longbow wrapped in fabric.

[1] Han, for cold again, Yu, for feathers/plume (like Guan Zhi Yu’s name). _(:3」∠)_

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