Zhao Ge Chapter 181-190

Chapter 181

As He Zhou watched that figure dressed in white long robes walk up step by step, he suddenly recalled the words they said back then when they were waiting on the Retaining Immortal Platform.

At that time, Jun Wan Bai said, there was one person who didn’t even walk a single step of the Connecting Heaven Staircase, who still entered Jiu Xuan Sect.

The disciples all needed to walk through this Connecting Heaven Staircase once to join Jiu Xuan Sect, other than Bai Li Shu back then. But…… could it be said that Bai Li Shu has also walked up the Connecting Heaven Staircase now? He Zhou did not know why, but he wanted to slightly laugh.

Today’s scene was still very strange, just as strange as back when Yi He Ping brought Bai Li Shu who did not go through the Connecting Heaven Staircase and directly entered Jiu Xuan Sect, where the all the elders of Jiu Xuan Sect who truly held status and even the sect leader waited outside the mountain gates and waited for a single disciple. This, without a doubt, did not fit with normal reasoning. However, not one elder’s face held an unsatisfactory expression…… including He Zhou.

He Zhou stroked the Han Yu Blade on his waist.

He inherited the Han Yu Blade, and walked into that part of history with the eras intertwining, with the memories of the ancestors of the Guan clan like a long river passing by his mind. Within that boundless long river, He Zhou saw many soul-shocking pictures, and also saw many astounding pictures—— within the battles with the era of Chaos’ ancient emperors, a young man draped in white robes with a thin figure welcomed in the fierce winds without turning their head and went up against the flow of the crowd.

The memories inherited through the Han Yu Blade was too much and extremely scattered, however, inside those most shocking pictures, that thin figure holding the longbow repeatedly appeared in them.

He Zhou did not see that figure’s actual face.

That person was dressed in white robes, and wearing a hood or a bamboo hat. And the images within the memories of the Guan clan’s predecessors he saw, at the time everyone dropped back, that person alone would always go forward. When taking in those memories, He Zhou sometimes felt like he was just like a spectator- he watched those withdrawing people try hard to turn their heads to look at that person walking in the direction opposite to them with their back facing them.

A figure that repeatedly appeared within the interlacing light.

When looking, one would only feel like it was strangely familiar.

He Zhou felt like that the longbow held in that person’s hands was extremely familiar—— when going against the fog raptor, standing on the deck, Bai Li Shu held a gold-coloured longbow just like that. Even if the longbow’s appearance was not completely similar, that familiar feeling was certainly the exact same.

After completely inheriting the Han Yu Blade, He Zhou finally understood some things. Bai Li Shu he…… certainly should eternally be cold and indifferent, with features sealed with snow, and a look like he was eternally holding many concerns.

Because, since a long time ago, that fellow was that solitary, like a person heading towards a boundless beacon fire.

Within the fierce strong winds, the thin young man slowly walked up.

Once the eldest disciple brother Bai Li Shu whose whereabouts where unknown after Bing Province’s Qing Ming tower was met with mishap stepped onto the final step of the Connecting Heaven Staircase, their sleeves continuously flapped around with the winds, but their features were no different from He Zhou’s memories. Even if there was an accident in Bing Province, even if Qi Qin dynasty had a coup, Bai Li Shu would still be of that indifferent and expressionless look.

His hands held a fabric-wrapped longbow, stood on the last step of the Connecting Heaven Staircase, and did not let out much of an astonished expression in face of this grand welcoming scene.

He Zhou saw his expression, and felt like this person seemed to never change.

His appearance was just about the same as back when Yi He Ping brought him back to Jiu Xuan Sect for the first time,-his eyes sealed in ice, and beneath the layer of ice, was a deep sea one could not pry into.

Bai Li Shu calmly stood there, and faced all of Jiu Xuan Sect’s elders as well as his master-in-name Yi He Ping, and did not have the intention of opening his mouth.

The two sides distantly looked to each other, and in the end, as the sect leader, it was Yi He Ping who opened his mouth first. He looked at the longbow held in Bai Li Shu’s hands, lightly sighed, and then in front of everybody, slowly bent down towards his disciple-in-name, and very respectfully bowed.

“You’ve returned”
Yi He Ping softly said. He no longer called Bai Li Shu his child anymore, and his tone turned courteous.

Not only him, but everyone, all the elders also slowly bent their waists towards the young man holding the longbow while standing on the final step of the staircase, and very respectfully gave their respects—— just like everybody from Tian Ji Valley back then. He Zhou who was draped with Xuan Li Peak’s black robes for elders firmly looked at the silent young man standing at the end of the staircase, and finally also loosened up the hand stroking the Han Yu Blade.

He also bent his waist, and bowed.

Bai Li Shu also saw He Zhou.

He quietly watched that once arrogant and spirited Jiu Xuan disciple drape on the black robes that represented an elder, withdraw all the wildness of youth[1], and no longer wanted to challenge him all angrily.

In the end, all had already changed.

The wild and youthful disciple was no longer spirited and wilful, and carried the responsibilities of adults, whereas the former master bowed down towards oneself…… everything had already ended.

The gates of Jiu Xuan Sect were still those gates, Jiu Xuan Sect’s Connecting Heaven Staircase was still that staircase, however, the once young and vigorous young person was no longer free from care or worry, and the truth that was once covered also finally completely exposed itself under the sunlight.

All the peace and uproar already ended.

The sounds of wind passed by, but Bai Li Shu did not feel cold, just…… felt it was a bit strangely sentimental.

He observed Yi He Ping who bowed towards himself, and went silent for a long while. In the end, he could not call out “Master” this entire time.

“I have returned.”
After a long time, Bai Li Shu lightly spoke up.

He returned.

The Bai Li Shu of the Eighteen Clans of Old.

Bai Li Shu remembered the first time he saw Yi He Ping.

That was when he was still in Tian Ji Valley, not long after Su Chang Su brought him back from Cang Pu dynasty. He sat on top of the star-gazing platform at Tian Ji Valley, and calmly sat there, lowering his head to look at the clouds and mist between the mountain valleys sweep around, and look at the flying birds passing by.

Su Chang Su told him, and said, he was Bai Li family’s family head, called Bai Li Shu.

Everyone should have their own name. People who did not have a name [despite] living in the world were nothing. However, at that time, Bai Li Shu was not normal. He faced that glossy-surfaced rock in Tian Ji Valley, and when looking at the rock, he would feel like he remembered many things, but those memories were not complete, they were some endless images that made people’s heads hurt intensely.

In those images, he heard many people calling him, yet it was like he was by himself.

He wanted to remember more clearly, but could not recall any more as the intense headache would make him faint. When he woke up, he would not remember anything again. Those were clearly his memories, so why was he unable to remember it?

The Bai Li Shu at that time sat at the star-gazing platform, watched the clouds and mist in the valleys, and thought to these things.

He felt like he was very strange.

Sometimes, he was that strong, just like that day in the small little ruined shrine. He sat in the shrine, and once he heard the clashing of swords and blades in the big rain outside, he knew that talkative girl was going to die. He saw many people die before- dying meant quietly laying on the ground, and finally turning into white bone, then having nothing remain.

He looked at the “be careful” that Liu Wu Yan wrote down.

He did not want that girl who lit up the bonfire to die like that, that feeling was very familiar.

So he stood up, walked into the big rain, and picked up a sword from the ground.

“You cannot kill her.”
He said softly.

It was very strange. He had walked for that long himself, and heard of some immortal cultivation or some martial training, but he himself had clearly never trained before. But in that moment, he did not want Liu Wu Yan to be killed by those mask-wearing people, so he would say those words that calmly, without feeling like anything was wrong. If he did not want her to die, then they could not kill her.

That feeling came out of nowhere.

When those black-armoured guards rushed towards himself, he did not feel fear—— was he really a fatherless and motherless young boy? Why was it that in that moment, he was able to so naturally draw a sword? Just like he once drew it out tens of thousands of times, the light of the sword passed through, and he killed people, yet did not feel there was something to dread.

At that time, he was that strong.

However, it was not like he was that strong all the time. He lived all muddled and without aim- sometimes, he could do anything, sometimes, he could only sit on the floor, and painfully close his eyes as he felt his life gradually leave the body, and feel himself slowly dying off.

He was very strange.

He was aware of this.

When seeing the birds protecting the fledglings while flying over the waterfalls, Bai Li Shu had that slight sliver of admiration. What was he admiring? Everyone in Tian Ji Valley was very respectful towards him, they felt like he was some amazing person, and the gazes they used to look at him carried that deep of an esteem and grief. In their gazes, he would constantly feel, he should be omnipotent, at the very least, he should be able to undertake something.

However, at some times, he really had a hard time.

He could not tell anyone his head hurt so much he could not move his fingers, nor could he tell anyone he wanted to remember things of the past that much, yet could not remember anything.

He even needed others to tell him of his own name, he was an abnormal person.

He was not a normal young boy, so he could not say it.

“There is nothing I know, nor anything I remember.”
He sat on top of the star-gazing platform, and felt a hard-to-describe sorrow drowning himself, thus, he finally could not hold it in, and lightly spoke.

The back suddenly transmitted with a sigh.

He turned his head to look, and saw a refined middle-aged person standing behind himself, while his back carried a sword. He looked to be like a scholar, but he stood atop the star-gazing platform with his back to the remote skies, the fierce clouds all intense and strong(?), and the feeling he gave people was like he was able to prop up the entire sky.

“It is us who were lacking in consideration.”
The man walked over, and half-knelt in front of him.
“This was originally something that we should be assuming ourselves, how could we leave it to other people? You do not need to think too much.”

“I want to remember.”

“There is no need to rush.” The man sighed, “Right now, you are still a child. Would you like to be my disciple? Before you recall, I will protect you.”

The master protecting the disciple was a worldly principle. This way, you would not feel like you must to carry some responsibility.

He said.

Right now, the person who said that the master protecting the disciple was a worldly principle back then, bent down towards him and bowed.

Bai Li Shu let out a sigh.

[1]年少轻狂- refers to the frivolous, egotistical ways of seeing and managing things, with immature thinking.

Chapter 182

Chapter One Hundred Eighty-two, Sounds of War Drums, Drawing Blades on the Go. (战⿎之声, 拔⼑⽽⾏)
The sect’s elders’ actions this time were not particularly concealed, so the news of Bai Li Shu returning to Jiu Xuan Sect quickly spread through all of the sect. Ever since after the accident with Bing Province’s Qing Ming tower, Jun Wan Bai and them already returned to the sect, only the eldest disciple brother, Bai Li Shu, could not be seen. It was not like there weren’t any disciples wondering where their eldest disciple brother went, but Jun Wan Bai and the others who also went to Bing Province and returned were ordered not to leak the matters that happened in Bing Province, and the sect’s elders did not even make mention of this as well, thus, the sect’s disciples could only guess in private all this time.

Later was Qi Qin dynasty’s upheaval- in this period of time, the sects were undergoing purges.

The familiar brothers turned into complete strangers in the blink of an eye, and in this purge, to say that the disciples within Jiu Xuan Sect weren’t at a loss, was not possible. Within the loss, starting at some time ago, the sect’s disciples started looking forward to Eldest Brother Bai Li Shu’s return—— that figure that would be calm and collected no matter when and yet stand to their front the entire time, made people subconsciously believe, no matter the time, that person would not change.

And now, Bai Li Shu came back. On this path from the gates to Jiu Xuan Sect’s main peak’s Jade Harmony Pavilion, Jiu Xuan Sect’s disciples saw their Senior Bai Li who disappeared for a very long time.

“To think I actually saw Senior Bai LI.” A Xuan Shuang Peak disciple peeked at that group of people coming to the front, and lowered their voice and spoke with their good friend.

Senior Bai Li who disappeared for many days returned to the sect, but not one person dared to go up and greet the eldest brother.

In the season of winter’s end nearing the start of spring, the frosty winds coming down from Huang Ling dynasty’s remote grasslands met with the stretching silver mountains Jiu Xuan Sect was located in, and turned into the final storm of snow within the long winter in this place. Snowflakes fleetingly flew up in the air, while elders draped in black robes embroidered with their various peaks and ranges’ symbols sternly walked in the snow.

The elders’ expressions were a serious one that the disciples could not understand- even the elders who would be improper and liked to laugh and gamble with the sect’s disciples, at this time, were so stern their entire being seemed like an unsheathed blade. This was a scene that Jiu Xuan Sect’s disciples had never seen before. The entire sect’s strongest people changed into formal clothing, just to receive a single person’s return.

In the middle of the elders draped in black robes, was a very thin young man. He alone was dressed in white robes, and bore a calm expression, unable to see what he was thinking of.

The Xuan Shuang Peak female disciple standing by her side lowly responded back, then looked at the walking young man clustered around by all of Jiu Xuan Sect’s elders—— she had seen Bai Li Shu once.

That was when Bai Li Shu came out not long after just ending isolation. At that time, Qian Range’s representative Senior Shen Chang Ge had not betrayed the sect yet. In the afternoon when the sun was just right, that young man dressed in white robes with a solitary gaze stood before her little stall, and reached out to take a notebook on the secular realm’s customs.

She roused up her courage and said to the sect’s eldest disciple brother, if Senior would like it, it is free.

Actually, she didn’t know what she was thinking back then. She only simply looked at the appearance of that person standing in front, with features sealed in snow, lowering their eyes to look at the notebook, and strangely wanted to say something.

The young man lightly said thanks, but still placed down some spirit stones before turning to leave.

How could there be someone who seemed like they were all alone even when standing within a crowd? The very thin back figure looked to be just like a quiet sword. That person looked to be icy cold, and yet when he lowered his eyes to look at the notebook, she instead distinctly felt that person was that sullen, that filled with concerns—— how could it be like this? Senior Bai Li was Jiu Xuan Sect’s eldest disciple brother, with many people worshipping him, and many who fell for him. Why would that outstanding of a person look to be that solitary and grieving?

Sometimes, she could not help but think back to that coincidence that afternoon, and recall that back figure turning to leave.

This was a bit silly, because it actually had nothing to do with her at
all.

After that long of a time, she saw the young man who was the sect’s
eldest disciple brother once again.

The sect leader who was just like a god to the normal disciples, those founding elders of the sect who finished isolation and came out after the latest unrest, and those top-level people of the sect who weren’t normally seen that pretty much only existed in the chitchat among the disciples were all dressed in the formal clothes that they would only wear when receiving other immortal sects’ leaders, with their expressions all stern. Within these pillars of Jiu Xuan Sect, only one person’s clothes were as white as snow. The people with the highest authority in the entire sect were spread around him, solemnly and silently leading the way.

Within those people, Bai Li Shu who was only the sect’s eldest disciple brother in name, who was the disciple with the highest standing within the younger generation, bore a thin figure.

They passed through all the dumbfounded and astonished Jiu Xuan Sect disciples- the immortal sects’ number one sect, Jiu Xuan Sect, used its highest etiquette to receive a single disciple’s return. From how everything looked, it was like back when Yi He Ping brought back an apathetic young boy back to Jiu Xuan Sect. The entire sect shook due to one person, and the sect’s almighties ended their long isolation and came out of the long dust- covered cave dwellings for one single person.

The sect elders surrounding that white-robed young man were all like stern blades, and this sect that remained silent at Qi Qin dynasty’s sudden upheaval now finally revealed its fierce side. That group that came from the mountain gates and walked through a majority of Jiu Xuan Sect all the way to Jiu Xuan Sect’s main peak was like an unsheathed blade.

Within the silence, Jiu Xuan Sect’s disciples seemed to have understood something, yet also seemed to not understand anything at all.

That Xuan Shuang Peak female disciple now was already an inner- sect disciple. After this group that symbolized Jiu Xuan Sect’s highest power passed by, she could not help but turn back to look at the back figure of the youth in the group of people, and could still vaguely see that person just as they were before, their back figure like bamboo, with the sleeves of the robe fluttering like cranes.

◈◈◈
Just at the time Jiu Xuan Sect’s disciples were continuously discussing the unusual return of the eldest brother Bai Li Shu that seemed to be announcing something, on top of Jiu Xuan Sect’s main peak, within Jade Harmony Pavilion, a secret meeting was being held. The elders within Jiu Xuan Sect that could truly be described as the “core” all participated in this meeting.

This meeting actually should have long been held.

This was a meeting that would decide on the sect’s fate, so in this meeting, each elder would be dressed in black robes, where the sleeves and hems of the robes would carry the various peak and ranges’ symbols. The weapons that each elder used, no matter if it was a blade or sword or any other kind, would be placed on the low table before the seats.

This sort of action of offering the blade that was equal to one’s life was not a demonstration of power, but a kind of pledge that meant, they already had nothing else they could use to gamble, only the weapon in their hands. They could brandish their blades for the sect at any time, without a care for life or death.

Before this, they were all waiting for this meeting of offering the blades and swords that was equal to their lives.

But, before this, the meeting could not be held the entire time. Because it was missing the most important person.
Among the fully-seated black clothes, a white-robed Bai Li Shu was particularly attention-grabbing. Within this solemn hall, a majority of the faces were particularly old, and the youngest elder He Zhou, in this kind of situation, even as the holder of the Han Yu Blade, could only sit at the end of the seats.

And yet, the Bai Li Shu draped in white robes was not sitting at the end of the seats.

He slightly lowered his eyes, and sat on the most respected top-most seat with a calm face.

Before Bai Li Shu was a longbow wrapped in fabric placed flatly on top the low table. No one let out any dissent towards a young face sitting at the most respected seat. Yi He Ping and the oldest of the founding elders—— that person who scolded Yi He Ping that day with a bunch of abuse, separately sat to the left and right sides of the top seat. The inside of the hall was extremely silent, and everyone was sitting properly.

So silent even the sound of snow falling down outside the pavilion turned distinct.

Within the silence, the sect leader, Yi He Ping stood up, and he tidied the black robe on his own body—— this should probably be the first time Yi He Ping wore this black-coloured long robe in front of people. What was slightly different to the others’ was that this black robe of Yi He Ping’s was embroidered with a strange marking.

That marking was a character from the era of Chaos, meaning Jiu
Xuan.

After tidying the black robes, Yi He Ping made a deep bow towards
the item placed at the very center of the hall—— that was a spiritual tablet that did not look to have anything unique to it.

The spiritual tablet was written with: The place of all Jiu Xuan’s elders and disciples.

This spiritual tablet represented all of Jiu Xuan’s elders and disciples who draped on black robes when leaving the sect, that never returned since the very beginning of time.

Everyone followed and stood up, and bowed down.

Once everyone returned to their seats again, Yi He Ping observed all around, and then slowly opened his mouth, “Jiu, for the infinite, Xuan, of the myriad nature of the path to eternity- Jiu Xuan Sect comes from this. And all this time, to protect the era’s secrets, our Jiu Xuan Sect inherited the past generation’s mission as our own responsibility, and this, is precisely why Jiu Xuan Sect would be the Eight Immortal Sects’ number one sect. This is our honour, as well as our dignity. From the time the forefather constructed the gates up to today, the sect’s countless elders and disciples, wielded their blades without hesitation to uphold the sect’s dignity, and spilled to their last drop of blood for the sect.”

“Hence, Jiu Xuan, would be the world’s matchless Jiu Xuan.”

This was originally a line filled with lofty sentiments, yet when said by Yi He Ping with an extremely calm tone, became stating an irrefutable reality.

“All this time, we were this conceited, enough to be proud of it. Or perhaps it should be said, not only us- each immortal sect was this conceited. We who are immortal cultivators, became this land’s guardians ourselves. Even if we had to pay an even greater price for [the land], it was of no hesitation. However……” Yi He Ping’s voice suddenly turned ice- cold, “Several hundred years ago, Jiu Xuan Sect discovered an unsteady and uncertain turbulence sweeping up.”

Bai Li Shu sat at the very top, and calmly listened to Yi He Ping speak.
He slightly lifted his eyes up, and looked outside the hall. An overspreading white snow drifted down fleetingly.
He was not concerned with what Yi He Ping was saying- in truth, the content was about those few things, everyone knew of it already. The dynasties were currently sending the immortal sects a challenge. And today, the immortal sects decided to welcome this stage of war.

Chapter 183

This was a meeting deciding upon welcoming the battle head-on, so as the sect leader, Yi He Ping lowly and deeply retold Jiu Xuan Sect’s history, retold Jiu Xuan Sect’s honour, Jiu Xuan Sect’s glory, and its survival and downfalls.

“We are an immortal sect that came from the era of Ten Thousand Immortals, we have held onto this glory for this long, so long we almost forgot……” Yi He Ping’s voice went down. He looked outside the Pavilion, towards Qi Qin dynasty’s direction, “So long that we have forgotten, on top of this continent, is actually not just us. Right now within Qi Qin dynasty’s borders, the Nine Provinces Private Bank’s Qing Ming towers have already changed hands. As immortals sects alike, the Nine Provinces Private Bank already became a land of fire, everyone, do you not feel astounded?”

A span of silence.

“In truth, this entire time, we all knew- with those powers present, there were people who had their eyes[1] on the towering immortal sects, but why is it that when we clearly knew of it, we had to let the matter develop to such an extent?”
Yi He Ping lightly asked.

It was like he was asking every person in this hall, yet also asking himself.

Still, no one answered.

He Zhou was sitting at the end of the seats, and had his head down watching the blade he put on the table. Actually, not only was it Yi He Ping who was asking, but ever since Qi Qin’s upheaval completely appeared beneath the sunlight, and even took another victory again that the immortal sects could never believe before, pretty much every person was asking.

Why?

How did that meagre-powered secular Qi Qin dynasty do it? The Nine Provinces Private Bank that was one of the Eight Immortal Sects was burned into shambles from the twelve dynasties’ lands just like that, and the ones who ignited this torch, was the ordinary people who were like the existence of nobodies for the immortal cultivators.

He Zhou actually knew all this time that he was not considered to be all that smart, what big powers underneath the sky, he was actually not one bit knowledgeable in. He was actually only an immortal cultivator, an immortal cultivator that was acquainted with the affairs of the country, wouldn’t it strange when said out loud?

But it was alright.

Some things, to not understand, not grasp, was not necessarily a bad thing. Just like what his father said when he taught him the blade back then, when the swordsman holds the blade, do not think of anything, as long as one knew why they brandished their blade, then that would be enough.

If one thought too much, then the hand holding the blade would not be steady.

But…… perhaps there was one person who knew of these things.

He Zhou thought, and looked towards that person sitting at the very top. The young man dressed in white clothes silently sat there all expressionless, with the longbow wrapped in fabric placed at the table in front of him. Bai Li Shu was still of that appearance of no expression, however, He Zhou felt, this person actually knew everything.

“Because of arrogance.” Within the span of silence, Yi He Ping lowly answered his own question, “We are a sect that has come down from the ancient times, we possess an ancient glory, we have praised ourselves as the guardians that surpassed above the secular. Yet, we have forgotten, mole crickets and ants may be minute, but gathered together, would also have the power to shake a giant tree. The fires of Nine provinces Private Bank have told us this.”

“Our arrogance has made us, even at a time that we discovered there was an extraordinary power participating, unable to concentrate all our strength at the first opportunity, leading to the Heaven’s Net spreading densely today, the destruction of the Nine Provinces Private Bank, and sects being hidden with an unbelievable number of traitors.”

Since starting the purge within the sect, this matter of traitors existing within the sect, for these people of Jiu Xuan Sect, was a topic that not one was willing to bring up. At the time when Bai Li Shu had not yet returned, each time they confirmed the plan of purging, the atmosphere would be stifling and heavy, and they avoided discussing this matter itself.

And today, for the first time, Yi He Ping tore open the biggest wound of the sect thus far in front of everyone.

The wound was dripping with blood, already revealing bone.

“Not long ago, I personally took care of an elder. At a time very long ago, he saved me once in a secret territory.” Yi He Ping calmly said, and he slightly lifted his head up, like he was thinking of something, “When personally killing him, I was thinking, was all of this completely their fault? Is it the fault of all those people of the dynasty? No, not only.”

“There is also our own mistake.”

The elderly person sitting to the right of Bai Li Shu twitched his eyebrows, and was about to break out in anger, but in the end, still held it in.

Yi He Ping, this person who always did not reveal any emotion and kept a scholar-like refined air since becoming Jiu Xuan Sect’s leader, for the very first time, revealed a fatigued expression to everyone’s faces, “And the fault also lies in me.”

“As the sect leader, I should have originally held responsibility for all the disciples. It is I who did not discover these problems in time, and did not dispose of those nails at the earliest moments, nor did I discover those suffering disciples that were wavering between decisions. This current situation in Jiu Xuan Sect, the biggest fault, lies in me.”

As Yi He Ping said this, he took up the sword on his own table. As Jiu Xuan Sect’s sect leader and Bai Li Shu’s master, what he used, was a longsword just about the same as Bai Li Shu’s from before. Yi He Ping drew out the sword, and the body of the sword that was just like frosty snow emitted a cold icy air, and within the big hall, this wave of frosty air was particularly apparent.

“To make such a big mistake while in post of the sect leader, Jiu Xuan Sect’s might that spanned for several thousands of years had been destroyed in my hands. According to principle, even death would not be enough to atone for it. But right now, the Nine Provinces Private Bank is already gone, Qi Qin dynasty is in full force, and this trivial life of mine still needs to be thrown into the following war, so I ask everyone to allow me to temporarily bear the fault and continue living in degradation.”

“It is not only the fault of you alone.”
After a long period of silence, the founding elder who sent glares and eyebrows to Yi He Ping after He Zhou became an elder finally opened his mouth.

He also stood up, and drew out the blade placed on the table in front of him, then flipped it and fiercely thrust it into the hard floor.

“For things to grow to this stage, each and every one of us are responsible- could it be that after these many years passed, arrogance has already destroyed Jiu Xuan Sect, and let us not even dare to admit our wrongs?” Yi He Ping’s Uncle, Jiang Xi Cheng’s[2] gaze sharply swept over each person’s face, “This old one is already an ancient set of bones, having been obstinate for an entire lifetime, today would be considered the day I completely have no need for a face. This matter, this old one is responsible as well. Back when He Ping discovered there was something suspicious, he once recommended the sect be thoroughly checked once. At that time, this old one felt this kind of method was without a doubt destroying Jiu Xuan Sect’s supporting pillars—— Jiu Xuan Sect is a Jiu Xuan that relies on all the disciples and all the elders’ trust to build up, if there was a day that even the people of the same sect were unable to be trusted, then that kind of Jiu Xuan Sect is not Jiu Xuan. Therefore, this old one did not agree.”

“Thus, this responsibility also lies in this old one.”
Jiang Xi Cheng sternly voiced.

He took one step forward, and took a deep bow towards the spiritual tablet in the center of the hall.

“Jiang Xi Cheng is ashamed in the face of Jiu Xuan’s brave souls.”

When Jiang Xi Cheng was bowing, all the elders who were originally remaining silent could no longer sit still. Since the leader of a sect, Yi He Ping, and the head of the founding elders, Jiang Xi Cheng, already stood up and admitted fault, they already had no right to remain sitting silently.

“Sect Leader and Elder Jiang has over-reproached themselves.”
The elders replied in unison, and they deeply bowed together towards the spiritual tablet once again after Jiang Xi Cheng.

Everyone had actually long predicted the seriousness of this meeting, but did not think that it was to a point so harsh that even the sect leader and the head of the founding elders Jiang Xi Cheng would admit to their faults. The heavy atmosphere already wrapped over each person’s hearts, and at this moment, everyone clearly sensed—— this really was a matter that was related to life and death.

Yi He Ping waved his hand, “There is no need for everyone to say much, my life will temporarily be left until the next battle, but right now……”

He reached out to take down the jade plate that represented the identity of Jiu Xuan Sect’s sect leader from his waist, and held the jade plate with two hands under everyone’s gazes, then walked towards Bai Li Shu who was sitting at the very top. Within a span of low surprised voices, Yi He Ping bent his body down, “To have committed such a big mistake, I no longer have the qualifications to be Jiu Xuan Sect’s leader, thus, under the witness of everyone today, I will resign from the position of Jiu Xuan’s sect leader, and hand it to…… the family head of Bai Li.”

The elders in seat let out complicated expressions.

But no one retorted to this suggestion—— because the one to succeed the position of sect leader, was that person.

The Bai Li family head of the Eighteen Clans of Old, that assumed the responsibility of guarding the graves.

That Bai Li Shu who, in the ancient eras, completed too many miraculous acts.

In front of this being, not one person in the entire land of the twelve dynasties was able to not maintain a heart of admiration.

Bai Li Shu lowered his eyes to look at that jade accessory that symbolized the sect leader.

Actually, He Zhou guessed one thing wrong- from when Yi He Ping started speaking, he actually thought of nothing. He looked at the drifting snow outside the pavilion, only to simply be in a daze.

Listening, and not listening, thinking, and not thinking, was actually of no matter.

Bai Li Shu knew what the purpose of this action of Yi He Ping and Jiang Xi Cheng’s was.

It was to knock the big bell of the slumbering people awake.

Yi He Ping did not hesitate to resign from the position of the sect leader, Jiang Xi Cheng did not hesitate to personally admit his own wrongs- this was all to completely wake up the people who retained the immortal cultivators’ arrogance. The dynasties were no longer of the former secular power of ordinary people they scorned, and to continue holding this disdaining and arrogant attitude, the immortals would only step onto the Nine Provinces Private Bank’s disastrous road. The dynasties that meticulously schemed for that long in secret, using an entire country’s countless people’s lives to make this era’s grand gamble, definitely did not merely have the power to destroy a single Nine Provinces Private Bank.

Apart from the “demons” that were also of the Eighteen Clans of Old, Bai Li Shu also felt a familiar aura lurking beneath this powerful current.

A very familiar, shadow-like existence had also entered this conflict as well.

As many and scattered thoughts crossed through his mind, Bai Li Shu stood up, and in the end, still received that jade plate that represented the Jiu Xuan Sect Leader’s position.

Yi He Ping waved his hand, and an elder holding up a jade tray with a black long robe came over.

Bai Li Shu silently extended his hand and took that black long robe with the sleeves and hems embroidered with ancient characters. He shook open the long robes, and the embroidery intermingling with gold and silver threads spread open.

Yi He Ping watched Bai Li Shu drape on the black robe, and his mind passed by with the look of that ignorant young boy back then.

He closed his eyes.

“Congratulations on being the sect leader.”
With Yi He Ping as the lead, everyone bent down, and echoed loudly.

[1] 虎视眈眈- to look with the eyes of a tiger, either with hostility, or with eyes of greed.
[2] 江西承- rivers/lakes + west + to bear/receive/carry

Chapter 184

As the gold-embroidered black robe draped onto the young man dressed in white, within the orderly shouting, Jiu Xuan Sect welcomed its most special and most mysterious sect leader in its history.

The black robes fell down like crow feathers. After Qi Qin dynasty defected, Jiu Xuan Sect as the number one of the Eight Immortal Sects used this kind of severe and solemn method to declare its resolution.

They no longer bore even a sliver of contempt.

After getting relieved of being the sect leader, due to the reason of Bai Li Shu just returning, in the following period of time, the things in Jiu Xuan Sect would still be presided over by Yi He Ping. The alternation of the sect leader was finished in this calm meeting just like this, but the newly posted Sect Leader Bai Li Shu did not have the intention of immediately speaking- he was still like before, slightly lowering his eyes, and calmly sitting on the seat of the very top, observing the longbow he placed on the table.

However, after everyone sat down, it was apparent to see that they were much more graver than before, where an imposing air wrapped over every person’s heads.

Yi He Ping who gave the sect leader’s jade accessory very quickly withdrew the sliver of exhaustion from before, and continued speaking of the next matters like he was no different from usual.

“Admittedly, for things to develop to this kind of step today, is due our own arrogance, but the dynasties’ power is not really so strong that it could easily destroy the Nine Provinces Private Bank. In here, are some existences that we are familiar with joining this war.”

“Demons.”
A person among the elders lowly opened their mouth.

“Correct, it is those originally sealed people among the Eighteen Clans of Old.” Yi He Ping said, “Today, we call them demons.”

Once He Zhou heard Yi He Ping say this, he skipped a heartbeat, and he lifted his head up to look towards Bai Li Shu sitting at the very top. Until today, He Zhou also faintly understood some things, for example, Bai Li Shu’s true identity—— the family head of the clan of Bai Li who made the one attack to finalize things countless times in the era of Chaos and Ten Thousand Immortals. Bai Li Shu…… he should actually recognize those people of the Eighteen Clans that are now being called “demons”, right?

The people who once fought together became today’s enemies, what kind of feelings does Bai Li Shu have right now?

He Zhou tried to see a sliver of change from the other person’s face, but he failed. Bai Li Shu seemed like he did not hear Yi He Ping’s words, and his face had no change whatsoever, looking solitary and ice-cold.

“Those sitting all know of the Eighteen Clan’s strength, it originated from the seizure of the ancient emperors’ powers back then, and along with the fall of the ancient emperors and the curse that the ancient emperors let out at the time of their fall, there was a considerably large portion of the Eighteen Clans’ power who appeared with loss of control. The portion that lost control found it hard to endure the change of the world’s laws along with the ancient emperors’ descent, and lost their senses more and more frequently.”

Bai Li Shu lowered his eyes, and listened to Yi He Ping simply talk about this secret hidden by history.

In truth, this kind of thing called history, what ended up being written was just those two or three lines. The people of the later times, no matter how hard they strived, separated by the words and the times, had no way of truly feeling the horrors of that period at that time.

Only the people who personally experienced it would smell that viscous and heavy bloodiness and sorrow from the one or two lines other people would simply mention.

The things that happened in the late period of the era of Ten Thousand Immortals directly led the remaining Eighteen Clans of Old to willingly erase their own names from history, and since disappear from people’s sights. The last three remaining ancient emperors of the era of Ten Thousand Immortals, also the Three Emperors that the later people called, they joined hands to try and draw that 《Three Wise Emperors’ Map》 that embraced the vast lands of the twelve dynasties, and sped up the abnormal movements of the universal stars and the transformation of the laws between the heavens and the earth. Furthermore, how no matter how it was said, the Eighteen Clans of Old’s strength originated from ancient emperors, so when each and every ancient emperor fell, the curse they let out were engraved on those eighteen surnames.

Those people whose bodies mutated after once failing to grasp power, at that time, suffered abnormally intense countering effects.

The Sky Emperor of that time, that ancient emperor who was the most talented, used an invisible kind of summoning, and influenced a portion of the Eighteen Clans’ mentality.

Some of the out-of-control Eighteen Clans used their remaining senses to oppose the Sky Emperor’s summons, leading their souls to completely crumble in the end, and their power completely going out of control, directly burning themselves as well as the things in their surroundings into ashes. At the time some of the Eighteen Clans of Old were carrying missions, they received the summons, and were stolen of their wills by the Sky Emperor, and their comrades were suddenly killed off by them under defenceless circumstances.

After paying such a heavy price, the family heads of the Eighteen Clans who originally only resorted to imprisonment gathered together, and made a painful decision.

Get rid of all the people who could feel the ancient emperors’ summons, and completely suppress all the people who began to appear with abnormalities when accepting power in the families.

The one who made this decision back then, was not any other person.

It was Bai Li Shu

He was the Bai Li clan’s family head, the Bai Li clan was the head of the families in the Eighteen Clans of Old, so his opinion was enough to influence the entire Eighteen Clans’ decision. But not all the family heads were able to accept this decision. Back then, the Guan clan’s head slapped the table and stood up, unable to accept this kind of bloody and merciless decision- he had no way of accepting people within the family about to personally kill, or personally seal their own brothers and sisters.

In that discussion, the family heads’ opinions were largely different from the very start, and both parties refused to budge.

At the very end when both sides were pretty much about to get into a fight, Bai Li Shu who never spoke a word suddenly stood up.

When Bai Li Shu stood up, everyone stopped fighting, and waited for him to make a decision.

He took out an arrow from his arrow bag, then placed it on the bowstring. He let go his hand, and the long arrow turned into a gold flowing flame, breaking through the skies, then tearing apart the space, hitting a guard that was several tens of miles out from the place of discussion. At that time, that Eighteen Clan’s guard was painfully kneeling down, with both hands grabbing his own head—— he felt the Sky Emperor’s summoning.

Everyone turned silent.

That arrow of Bai Li Shu’s already indicated his attitude.

“We will start from Bai Li.”
Bai Li Shu put down the longbow, then opened his mouth. His voice was not high, and his tone could not be called unyielding either.

But of the remaining family heads, no one no longer said anything.

Bai Li Shu left first. He carried his longbow all by himself, and the cold light of the skies fell onto his white robes. He walked into this light, and gradually walked far off.

No matter at what time, turning blades to one’s own people was this world’s most painful thing. The people who once entrusted their backs to each other, and the swords in the hands that saved oneself, within a single night, turned to point at oneself. People who were the older brothers, would have to personally kill their own little brother that trusted them, and people who were little sisters had to hold torches and watch as their older sister got sealed with a formation that would never be opened again.

Bai Li Shu remembered the clan member he personally killed the entire time.

That young Bai Li member who always looked at him like a god, when feeling the Sky Emperor’s summoning, had the flesh and blood on his body tear apart, where the power that went out of control surged within his veins, and he would completely lose his senses at any time. Bai Li Shu killed him.

Blood splattered over Bai Li Shu’s hands, and life rapidly flowed away from the person, and along with the arrival of death, the gaze of that person who would be respectful in front of him gradually turned clearer.

“Thank you.”

Bai Li Shu held the bow, and quietly stood there, and watched as the person of the clan trying to make a final bow died off, and felt his surroundings were all empty and barren.

Why thank him?

The one who put down the orders was him, the one who killed people, was also him.

Why would the person being killed turn over and thank the person who did the killing? To maintain loyalty even til death.

The person who just personally killed their own older brother yesterday, before they could even prepare a grave for them, had to bring their swords on the next, and go far off to carry out a life-or-death mission. Tides of blood swept over the vast lands, and each person was using all their strength to kill, all to exchange for a peaceful land.

But today, on vast lands that the Eighteen Clans used blood and pain to exchange, a new tide of blood rose up once again.

The “demons” that were sealed for many years collected the pain of being betrayed and sealed over the long time, and walked out of the darkness, joining this battle left from from the era. The ancient emperors’ power and that ever lofty shadow lingered on[1], lurking on the lands.

Bai Li Shu looked at the longbow wrapped in fabric strips, and his fingers inconspicuously and slightly moved.

He felt that lukewarm feeling of blood splattering over his hands again, bloody yet viscous, and unable to be shaken off.

“Jin Tang dynasty and South Chen dynasty declared war with each other not long ago, so Jin Tang dynasty’s army and South Chen’s dynasty’s army are arranged on the boundaries where both countries meet. To declare war mutually at this time, is only to give a passable excuse on the surface for mobilizing troops.” Yi He Ping coldly laughed, “From when war was declared until now, regardless if it’s Jin Tang or South Chen, not one person died? What kind of declaration is this?”

“They certainly are declaring war.”

Xuan Ce Peak’s peak master, Xie Xu Gui[2], opened his mouth. The master of Xuan Ce Peak who was in charge of Jiu Xuan Sect’s tributes and spiritual energy veins was a man who looked to carry a bit of a fiendish aura. Their stature was strong and big, and beneath the black robes, was filled with muscle. His weapon was just about the same as the already-dead He Qing Chuan, a heavy sabre.

“Just that they’re are declaring war against our Jiu Xuan Sect is all.”

“Qi Qin dynasty is to the east of Jin Tang, and south of South Chen. Now, Jin Tang and South Chen each deployed troops to their borders, forming a defensive line- South Chen and Jin Tang are now using their own power to give Qi Qin dynasty a solid line of defence. They did not choose to immediately break facades with us, all to avoid directly starting a war with the sects at this time.”

Yi He Ping used his spiritual energy to outline a map in the center of the hall.

In the twelve dynasties, Qi Qin dynasty was to the very south, where Jin Tang dynasty was in the middle but leaning south, and South Chen took up the east region as well as the northeast mainland. These three dynasties pretty much took up all the agriculture-rich territories in the Central Plains, and was the most economically-flourishing within the twelve dynasties and had the biggest land proportions. Huang Ling dynasty typically mainly led a nomadic life, and only took up the northern grasslands region. The remainder of the territory was fairly big, with Bao Dan dynasty located above the southwest highlands, Fu Yi dynasty by the borders between Bao Dan dynasty and the northwestern frontier of Jin Tang dynasty, with one half a desert and the other a giant valley, and Cang Pu dynasty between Bao Dan and Jin Tang, with their territory consisting of all poor mountains and giant ranges.

Among the twelve dynasties, these were the biggest countries. The remaining were several small countries within the snowy ranges to the north, as well as the island countries.

Of which, Jin Tang, South Chen, Qi Qin, these three countries combined together formed the entire Central Plains’ fertile zone, pretty much holding half the population of the entire world.

Now, South Chen and Jin Tang united and mobilized troops on the borders, creating a line of defence for Qi Qin.

“We must know of the concrete circumstances within Qi Qin.” Yi He Ping stared at that line of defence, “This is not an ordinary army. Jin Tang’s hidden crows, the released demons…… these powers should have a majority already hidden within this army. They are also taking precautions with us.”

The light from the spiritual energy fell into Yi He Ping’s eyes, sharp like the edge of a blade.

“We need to send out a group of people, and cross through this line of defence.”
He lightly said.

◈◈◈

Bai Li Shu’s return brought back the news of the start of war.

After everyone witnessed that peculiar group come from the mountain gates, and cross through a majority of Jiu Xuan Sect, then walk into Jiu Xuan’s main peak, everyone including Senior Bai Li no longer appeared in people’s eyes.

The sect’s disciples already felt it- the top-level people of the sect were deciding on an important decision regarding their following fate.

On Xuan Shuang Peak, Bai Li[3] drew her sword out again and again.

Right now, she was no longer an ordinary Xuan Shuang Peak disciple when Senior Bai Li appeared at the sect market, and other than the isolating Senior Jun, Bai Li was the most outstanding disciple of Xuan Shuang Peak. She had a particular habit. Once she felt like she had no way of concentrating, she would practice the sword. Not those deep and profound sword techniques, but just simply drawing out the sword, repeating the most simple and also the most basic action.

Within the lines of sword light, her emotions would slowly calm down.

With the longsword put back, Bai Li sighed.

The method that was typically effective lost its use today. No matter how she drew her sword, she still could not calm down.

The airs of the winds filling the building as the mountain rains were about to come was all around, so stifling that it made people feel dejected. Bai Li also knew of the circumstances at present- Qi Qin dynasty’s changes, the purge within the sect…… as long as one was not a fool, they would know that a war would be bound to erupt between the dynasties and the sects. Bai Li was actually not afraid of war. Before joining the sect, she was a refugee coming from Jin Tang, and all this time, she felt like, death, was just merely that.

She was not afraid of death.

She was only annoyed by this oppressing and uneasy atmosphere due to war about to start. The dynasties and the sects were maintaining a mysterious attitude, but the sounds of the edges of the blades were ever so clear. Everyone knew a massacre was in sight, however, the command to kill had not been put down yet. Bai Li did not like this uneasy feeling of waiting, she felt like stepping onto the battlefield with the heart of heading to death, was much better than this.

“Your shortcoming is that you have no patience.”
A slightly stern voice came up. Bai Li turned around, and saw Bai Yuan Xiu carry a sword on her back and neither hurriedly nor slowly walk over.

Bai Yuan Xiu is Xuan Shuang Peak’s master, and Xuan Shuang Representative Jun Wan Bai’s master, and Bai Li was someone taken in as her disciple not long ago. It was precisely because Bai Li was taken in as her disciple, that she would then know of some things that some ordinary disciples would not know—— for example, Shen Chang Ge actually did not die to battle, but betrayed the sect.

“Master.”
Bai Li called out with a bit of reserve, and put back the sword.

She did not really understand all this time, as Xuan Shuang Peak’s peak master, why would Bai Yuan Xiu take her in as a disciple? Bai Li always felt like her talents were actually not that good, and compared to the genius Senior Jun, the difference was very big.

But to be taken in by Bai Yuan Xiu, Bai Li was actually very excited.

This way, Jun Wan Bai would be her actual and proper senior. As Xuan Shuang Peak’s disciple, pretty much everyone had a mentality of worship towards that bright and resolute senior sister. Throughout the entire time, Bai Li remembered- after she painstakingly climbed up that Connecting Heaven Staircase of tens of thousands of steps back then, her pair of legs almost directly knelt down.

“You haven’t even knelt for a master yet, what are you kneeling for?”
A voice with a bit of laughter resounded, and just before Bai Li knelt down, a hand reached out and pulled her.

“Little sister, I see that your bones are quite quaint and elegant, why not choose our Xuan Shuang Peak?”

The senior who pulled her hand a high ponytail tied up, her eyebrows lifted, and carried a spirited and unreserved feeling that Bai Li admired the most.

“En…… okay.”
Bai Li replied in a small voice.

All this time, Bai Li very much venerated Senior Jun who pulled her at the end of the Connecting Heaven Staircase back then. The disciples of Xuan Shuang Peak all knew, as the head representative, Senior Jun was always of a fierce appearance, however, every time she brought the disciple brothers and sisters out, she would always subconsciously stand in front of every disciple. When Xuan Shuang Peak’s disciples lost in a fight with Yu Shou Sect’s disciples, Senior Jun would always scold what a bunch of good-for-nothings they were while taking up the swords, all to find those Yu Shou Sect bastards.

Bai Li thought, just when could she become someone like Senior Jun?

Back then at the end of the Connecting Heaven Staircase, Jun Wan Bai pulled at her hand, and brought her into the vast world of immortal cultivators, and from that moment on, Bai Li felt like she was a disciple of Jiu Xuan Sect.

Bai Yuan Xiu looked this young disciple of hers with a calm temper that was bit like a depressed hawthorn[4] for a bit, and after a while, she opened her mouth, “The sect has a mission for you.”

“Yes, this disciple will definitely head to it with all her strength.”
Bai Li’s expression turned serious.

When Bai Yuan Xiu said “the sect has a mission”, she perceptively sensed, this mission had a high possibility of being related with Senior Bai Li’s return and the gathering of the sect’s elders.

“The sect has decided to send a group of people to head to Qi Qin dynasty. A’Li, you were born in Qi Qin dynasty, so the elders decided to let you join this group, and act as a guide.” Bai Yuan Xiu paused, “The mission this time…… is very dangerous. There a possibility of dying.”

She observed this overly calm disciple of hers, and her gaze turned sharp.

Bai Li slightly froze, and faintly smiled, “Master…… I am not afraid of dying.”

After Bai Li left, Bai Yuan Xiu turned around, and looked at the vapour of Bai Zhang Lake.

Bai Zhang Lake’s waterfalls were still as though it flushed away without pause, where the vapour formed a span of obscurity. However, in the vapour today, there wasn’t that stubborn girl who trained her sword by going against the waters.

Let it be so.
Bai Yuan Xiu thought.

After sending Jun Wan Bai, she was about to send Bai Li to the battlefield as well. All her disciples stepped onto the battlefield, so now, she should also move herself.

Before Bai Li left, Bai Yuan Xiu told her one thing. Bai Li certainly looked to be calm, but in reality, she was not much different from Jun Wan Bai. She was stubborn to death, stifled with questions, yet not that willing to say it out loud. However, as their master, she actually always understood what her own disciples were thinking.

Bai Yuan Xiu answered Bai Li’s doubts: She took Bai Li as her disciple, because…… of her surname.

Bai, is one of the Eighteen [surnames] of Old.

[1] 阴魂不散- literally read as the ghost does not go away, an expression for how the ghosts still have attachments to the living, crying for their justice.
[2] 谢旭归- xu, for the rising sun, gui, for return.
[3] 白离- Bai, for white, Li, for leaving, or part of the Eight Diagrams (like Li Range). Not to be confused with Bai Li Shu’s surname.
[4] 闷葫芦- either for someone who doesn’t like to talk, or someone who puzzles others.

Chapter 185

Chapter One Hundred Eighty-five, Flowers of Blood, the Death of Shen Ye. (⾎腥之花, 沈⻚之死)
Yi He Ping found Bai Li Shu at the back of the main peak.

The young man draped in black robes stood before a grave, with his hand holding a longbow wrapped in fabric.

Yi He Ping watched his back figure, and then walked to the front after a little while. Bai Li Shu long already felt his arrival, just that he did not turn his head, nor did he open his mouth.

They both stood in front of the same gravestone. This grave looked to already have some years to it, and was not as new as He Qing Chuan’s gravestone that had just been placed. The gravestone was engraved with a name, “Shen Ye”.

Bai Li Shu slightly hung his head down to look at this grave- there wasn’t much expression on his face, but Yi He Ping knew that Bai Li Shu was actually feeling sad.

Master, master. To be a master, was just like being a senior, a father- where was there a person who was a father who did not know what kind of feelings their own child had?

What family head of the Eighteen Clans, what hero of the eras- Bai Li Shu was only a child that easily thought too much, and liked to stifle words in his heart. This sort of child made the elders’ heads hurt the most, yet also made the elders grow sad the most too.

But at present, the person who personally sent their disciple to the battlefield already had no qualifications of calling themselves “Master”.

“Back then, I killed him, personally.” After standing for who- knows-how-long, Bai Li Shu suddenly opened his mouth lightly.

He looked at the gravestone, and recalled the matters from the projected plane that was created from the era’s severance.

At that time, he still did not know his own name, and was just aimlessly walking on the boundless earth day after day. Sometimes, he would encounter some very good people, sometimes, he would encounter some bad people, and sometimes, he would be strong, but sometimes, he would fall to the ground, and curl up as he felt life gradually seep out from his body, then once he woke up again, his mind would be a span of snow- white, remembering nothing.

It was that snowy night, where snow endlessly fell down, that the man draped in black robes walked out from the boundless drifting snow, and knelt down on one knee in front of him.

The man named “Shen Ye” found him in the snowy night of boundless flying snow, and answered that question for the first time.

From then on, he was called Bai Li Shu.

He started to have a place called “home”. He returned to the Bai Li clan, and the members of the Bai Li clan all looked at him like a god, they very loyally followed his back, where his one word was able to make them head to death without any hesitation whatsoever—— just like in the era of Chaos.

The rootless flowers fell to the ground at this time, and he was accepted into the world once again. The days as the Bai Li family head was actually considered to be quite happy. He would always sit by the window, and watch the young members of the clan go about.

Bai Li Shu felt like he should shoulder the responsibility as a family
head.

Since those members with eyes jumping with a young fire very
respectfully called him Family Head, and looked at him like he was a god, he needed to hold responsibility for them.

And so, when he sensed Shen Ye was plotting to use the Bai Li clan’s blood to achieve another goal, Bai Li Shu personally killed him without any hesitation.

When he saw Shen Ye for the last time, he alone held a torch and entered the Bai Li clan’s dungeon. Within the cold and damp dungeon, that elderly person of mysterious means calmly sat there.

Before seeing Shen Ye, Bai Li Shu actually thought about it- was he actually able to kill Shen Ye? Could he really do it?

Shen Ye…… was that person in the snow, who told him who he was, and brought him back to the Bai Li clan.

Was he really able to do it?

Bai Li Shu did not know himself, and so, when he held the torch and walked into the dim passageway, he only felt the winds were desolate and cold.

—— It must have been extremely laborious for the young lord to attend to numerous affairs everyday. Since the young lord has already drawn a prison on the ground for me, I will no longer create more disturbances for the young lord. This is also the only thing this senile man is able to do for the young lord. The elderly man lowered his head, and did not let him make the decision even he was unsure about, and ended his own life by himself. Only, even until death, he did not explain why he would lay his hands on the Bai Li clan, or why he had to plot a scheme against the Bai Li clan’s bloodline.

This question perplexed Bai Li Shu for a long time. It was when he returned to the twelve dynasties, and remembered all his memories, that Bai Li Shu then understood the answer. Shen Ye actually wanted to use the Bai Li clan’s blood as a catalyst, and bring him back to the land of the twelve dynasties.

The Bai Li clan in that dimensional plane may have already lost the powers as an Eighteen Clans, but the blood of the Eighteen Clans naturally allowed them to have a certain relationship with the land of the twelve dynasties.

Shen Ye hid this matter, and ended his own life.

“Why did he not say anything?” Bai Li Shu lightly asked.

Had Shen Ye been willing to tell him everything, would the situation have changed?

The Bai Li Shu who asked this question seemed to turn back to that young boy who sat at Tian Ji Valley’s star-gazing platform.

The heart hid with that many things inside, that much sorrow, yet he would say nothing, and only at the occasional times where he really was fatigued to the extreme, would he then lowly ask a why in a place with no one else around.

“Because he felt it was shameful.” Yi He Ping calmly said, “The things that one should have originally undertaken themselves, had to be pinned on others time after time again. To let the young step onto the battlefield, has been our neglect of duty.” Bai Li Shu did not understand why Shen Ye did not say it, but Yi He Ping did.

Someone like Bai Li Shu who was accustomed with carrying the responsibilities over his own body, how does one let him face that kind of decision? One side was the Bai Li clan, the other was a war on the twelve dynasties beginning from the start of times.

This kind of choice itself was far too cruel.

And so, in the very end, Shen Ye concealed everything, and ended his own life—— actually, Shen Ye should also be thinking, before everything actually arrived, just let Bai Li Shu be the Bai Li clan’s family head.

But in the end, Bai Li Shu still returned to the twelve dynasties’ lands, and he, in the end, still handed that black robe to Bai Li Shu.

He and Shen Ye, were not considered to be some promising adults.

Bai Li Shu no longer continued with this topic, and he slightly lifted his head up, looking at the flowing white clouds in the sky, “Regarding the matter of the ling zhi, do we need to continue concealing it?”

“Things that could not be helped, must be kept hidden.” Yi He Ping’s expression turned serious.

Bai Li Shu extended his hand out, and slightly gripped it, as though catching something from the void, then lowly said, “It might not be possible to completely conceal it.”

A refined spiritual energy flowed in Bai Li Shu’s lean and white hands, and let out a faint flickering glow. The clouds in the sky suddenly circulated rapidly, the winds fiercely scraped by, and the quiet place this forest of graves were erected upon faintly seemed to have dimmed down.

Not long ago, in that meeting regarding the entire sect’s survival, Yi He Ping looked to have laid all the secrets bare. And yet, the truth was not so. The brief question that Bai Li Shu asked was about a matter that Yi He Ping—— or maybe it should be said that not only was it Yi He Ping, but all the top-most level of people within the immortal sects—— strictly sealed away.

That was one of the biggest and most foundational discrepancies between the sects and the dynasties.

All this time, the sects occupied close to six-tenths of the secular realm’s land to grow ling zhi with. All this time, in people’s knowledge, those ling zhi were used to refine into pills, and were also eaten by the immortal sects’ disciples whose cultivation was particularly low. But in reality, how would it need that much ling zhi- just for the disciples’ diet alone, it was not to the extent that each parcel of land needed to be placed with a strict formation for protection.

The ling zhi, was actually the sect’s real foundation, and for this, the sects did not hesitate to use various means.

No matter if it was supporting the prestigious clans in the dynasties, or increasing control towards the dynasties and killing off all the ambitious emperors, it was only to hide this secret.

Even inside the sect, the people who truly knew of the purpose of the ling zhi would definitely not be over ten. Had it been another person who spoke of this, Yi He Ping would have already drawn his sword at this time.

And yet, the person who said it, was Bai Li Shu.

“Those who can know of these, are not only limited to me.” Bai Li Shu let go of his hand, and the spiritual energy gathered by him dissipated into countless bits and pieces of light and flew away, “I felt it.”

Bai Li Shu turned around, and calmly looked at Yi He Ping. “Someone has awakened.” ◈◈◈
In the northwest part of Qi Qin dynasty, Ge City.

Groups and groups of soldiers were dressed in armour and orderly going out from the city gates, but the aura on these soldiers was a bit strange—— sombre and dangerous.

These were not ordinary soldiers.

At this time, the Qing Ming tower at the very center of Ge City already turned from black to gold, and an ancient, invisible fluctuation spread out from the Qing Ming tower, enveloping the skies above the entire city.

For the ordinary people who did not have any cultivation, there was not much change, but the people who cultivated could feel that kind of ancient and veiled power that made people uncontrollably lower down their heads and go quiet. That kind of might was not intense, just like deep waters hidden beneath the ice layer- you can feel its presence, but before the ice layer had completely shattered, nobody would know how scary it was.

After the soldiers left the city gates, they directly rushed to the spirit fields that belonged to the Nine Provinces Private Bank from before.

Since the Bank’s destruction, this scene reproduced itself on the lands of Qi Qin dynasty over and over again.

The soldiers dressed in heavy armour and changed auras would go out from the city, then break the formations enveloping over the fields belonging to the Nine Provinces Private Bank acre by acre.

After the formations were broken, the ling zhi being grown in the fields would be rapidly burned away, with this kind of labour being carried out by the provinces’ farmers. At the same time, the officials that the prefectural executive sent would start measuring the cleared fields, and divide it again according to the dynasty’s standards. This was the history’s strictest land survey yet. However, it wasn’t that there weren’t any local wealthy men who tried to usurp some land in this process, but rather, the dynasty’s attitude was unexpectedly stiff.

Once discovered, the armoured soldiers would walk into the wealthy family on the same day. Some people would try to rely on the retainers they raised to resist them, but in front of these sombre-aired and dangerous soldiers, those retainers the wealthy families raised would collapse at the first blow like lamb in front of starved wolves.

The armoured soldiers would silently walk into the wealthy families, and not long after, walk out with the edges of their blades carrying a bloody air.

Then, the severed heads of wealthy families attempting to take land would be hung at a place not far from the city gates on that very same day.

In front of those heads dripping with blood, the people with petty calculations had to do away them.

And the one who put down this order, was the current Qi Qin dynasty emperor, that delicate and gentle young man who turned famous with his literature.

Unlike the usual impression of Bai Yi Qing everyone usually had, Bai Yi Qing’s methods at this time no longer had that prior bit of softness, as it was shockingly unyielding and cold-blooded, yet on the other hand, he certainly also retained a cautious and meticulous side to it.

The scholars who formerly used discussing poems’ vocabulary and meaning to gather no longer concealed the truth, and rice paper covered over the entire land of Qi Qin dynasty like snow within the blink of an eye, where essays and essays filled with literary talent spread through the word of mouth, fervently denouncing and appealing to the country’s citizens to gather under the banner of Qi Qin dynasty.

The Qi Qin dynasty lead by the Bai family had completely broken ties with the immortal sects. Mysterious martial warriors went to and fro within the city, and in the black curtains of the night, people wearing iron masks would come and go just like ghosts.

Though the Nine Provinces Private Bank may be destroyed, not all of the Bank’s disciples and elders died. Qi Qin dynasty’s conduct may have been fast, and the method of attack and power may have been strong, but when the Nine Provinces Private Bank spread over the entire dynasty received the news, there was still a portion of people who escaped and survived. Qi Qin dynasty organized a list of names of the entire Bank, and put up the escaped Bank’s disciples and elders as wanted people.

Thus, on the land of Qi Qin dynasty, there were constant battles erupting out. In these days, people were already accustomed to occasionally having masked people cooperating with sword-bearing warriors to engage in a life-and-death struggle with exposed disciples of the Bank.

The merchant city of Qi Qin dynasty was the core of where the world’s spiritual energy completely twisted and turned, however, as each and every Qing Ming tower changed hands, each city’s worldly energy entered a not considerably fast, but inevitable transformation.

Under this kind of suppression, the immortal cultivators of the Nine Provinces Private Bank was met with an extremely big restraint, and the result of battling typically ended in the Nine Provinces Private Bank’s survivors dying.

Massacre was constantly underway.

At the same time the unsparing chase of the remaining Private Bank’s people was happening, Qi Qin dynasty announced a solicitation for the world’s immortal cultivators who did not belong to the immortal sects. All the immortal cultivators who joined Qi Qin dynasty would be able to obtain a small bronze tablet, and with this bronze tablet, the immortal cultivators would not be suppressed by the transformed Qing Ming towers.

This group of immortal cultivators that joined Qi Qin dynasty would be formed into three armies, respectively named “White Plume”, “Scarlet Quill”, and “Grey Wings”, each with different responsibilities.

Using chilling and bloody methods together with meticulous and gentle measures, Bai Yi Qing revealed his fear-inducing and brilliant side to the world.

The powerless[1] mortals, at this time, revealed a strength and terror belonging to mortals.

“How it makes people’s head hurt.” In a small inn of Ge City, a chubby person dressed as a Cang Pu medicinal merchant unfittingly squatted on the floor, and fanned his rush-leaf fan.

A different dried, wrinkly and thin old man bore a cold face, and was sitting cross-legged by the window.

The fatty looked at the cold-faced old man. When he saw his long face that was still like a dead person’s, he would be annoyed, and could not help but find a few silvers to toss it at the thin old man.

“Dead-face, what are you doing, it’s not like you can cultivate, to hell with a straight face and meditation.”

The silvers tossed over sudden stopped, then straightly fell down.

The thin old man opened his eyes, and looked at the fatty with ill will, “Last-named Chen, your skin must be itching, no, need it to be scratched again?”

The fatty let out a “heh heh”, making him look a bit like sly and deserving of a beating, “Don’t use this to scare this old man, with the kind of circumstances now, if you dare move, this old man’s gonna let your clean it up. Dead-face, wake up. This time, had this old man not been quick, you would have been long burned into nothing by now.”

The thin old man coldly humphed, but didn’t actually say anything in return. This chubby and thin duo were elders of a branch of the Nine Provinces Private Bank, and lived on from the sudden revolt of Qi Qin dynasty a few days ago. At this time, they changed their faces and brought a few disciples to scatter and hide in this small city.

The chubby elder’s surname was Chen, full name Chen Dan[2], but the elders who recognized him never called him by his name. Even within the Bank, this Elder Chen was famous for having the cowardice of a good- for-nothing. Be it secret territories or whatnot, as long as it was a matter that involved his little life, he wouldn’t go even if he was beat dead, and in direct contrast with this bastard’s timid good-for-nothingness, was his slippery nature.

Elder Chen’s cultivation was not considered high, nor considered low, but he was particularly shrewd and slippery, and quite looked like the type to dance with long sleeves. He made good relationships with people in all sorts of corners, and even some petty tactics that couldn’t see the day of light were used incomparably smoothly.

For the thin old man and some other disciples of the Private Bank to be able to live on this time, was all thanks to his cowardice and shrewdness. Elder Chen typically liked to make relationships with various types of people and gather some information, and after the incident in the merchant city, before the news spread out, he smelled something wrong, and hurriedly went into hiding.

The thin old man’s surname was Jiang. Elder Jiang brought some disciples and risked death to escape from the dynasty’s encirclement, and on the way, just when it seemed like the people chasing them were about to catch up, the Elder Chen who long hid in the dark in observation hurriedly took the people away.

Elder Chen’s cultivation was certainly not considered that high, nor did he have much courage, but as for a few dirty tricks, that was certainly something he had.

On this journey, Elder Chen not only concealed identities, put on disguises, used a lot of money to make way, then immediately change identities once they passed through, he would also use others’ weaknesses to threaten them. With all sorts of petty methods put to play, it allowed this group to head to go from the big provinces all the way towards the direction of Jiu Xuan Sect.

This was Elder Jiang’s plan- there was too much chasing down within Qi Qin dynasty, and to stay here any longer, sooner or later, would be trouble. Not only that, Elder Jiang’s cultivation was high, and had a much higher status than Elder Chen in the Bank, so there were some things that he knew more clearly about than him.

In this period of time, Elder Jiang saw the upheaval within Qi Qin dynasty’s borders with his own eyes, and faintly had some guesses. It was because of those guesses that he felt the circumstances surrounding Qi Qin dynasty must be sent out, and Jiu Xuan Sect was the closest as well as the strongest of the Eight Immortal Sects. Elder Jiang would rather have his own old bones tossed at Qi Qin, just to let someone from the Bank rush out of the blockade.

Elder Jiang had no way of dealing with the dry and thin old man, and squatted on the floor while putting a long face and thinking for a while, then agreed to [the plan].

On the way, the group of people continuously changed identities and disguises, and headed towards the northwest direction more scared than hurt under Elder Chen’s slippery tactics.

But the closer to Qi Qin dynasty’s borders they got, the more harder it got to carry on.

[1] ⼿⽆缚鸡之⼒- so powerless you can’t even tie a chicken up, is how the literal expression goes.
[2] 陈旦- dan, for dawn, or daybreak.

Chapter 186

Ge City was a city already very close to the border.

Elder Chen arranged a group of people to slowly use various kinds of identities to live in the few inns nearby, while he himself went out a few rounds, and secretly asked a few of his inglorious connections. The situation was extremely discouraging, if not constantly waving their hands and saying they can’t do it, it was talking in ambiguous words.

Once Elder Chen who had a bit of fame within the Nine Provinces Private Bank for his cowardice and slyness saw these cowards talk evasively, he paid some more attention, and after taking his leave, he hurriedly changed disguises and winded back again. As expected, every time, those bastards who were more shrewd than anything else would lead warriors with curved blades on their waists to the place Elder Chen met them before.

Elder Chen would secretly curse these bunch of cowards that were best at double-crossing while returning back without leaving a trace.

But there was no other way even if he returned, he could only sit there across from the dead-face.

Things were much more difficult than they initially thought- in the place where Qi Qin, Jin Tang, and South Chen bordered each other, along the road going north from Qi Qin to Jiu Xuan Sect, South Chen and Jin Tang’s large number of troops drew up a line of defence spreading thousands of miles. Elder Chen’s cultivation was not high, the things he knew were not much, but Elder Jiang could see that the aura on those heavily-armoured soldiers were extremely strange.

Though that kind of power was extremely faint on the soldier’s bodies, it could not be neglected.

It was slightly similar with “demons”, but the level seemed to be of an even higher power.

Elder Jiang faintly had a guess, and it was precisely because of this guess that made him make the decision to not spare any price to rush out the line of defence and reach Jiu Xuan Sect.

“Yes, yes yes, I know, we have to rush out, is that fine.”
Just when the thin old man opened his mouth to say something, Elder Chen could not help but roll his eyes, and twitched the corners of his mouth.

“You want to immediately rush out in this kind of situation? Just see if those masked people with curved blades on their waists would let you out, this old man used all his power to have you guys dragged over here, not to see you people send yourselves to death.”
Elder Jiang knitted his eyebrows, he was originally used to making a stern face, and with knitted eyebrows, it turned even more colder.

Elder Chen felt annoyed looking at it, cursed, then laid on the floor, and started wringing dry his brain to think of more ways.

Actually, Elder Chen knew too- no matter if it was to rush out, or to stay here, it wasn’t all much different, it was just as dangerous. They were hiding in a small inn right now, and though there was no danger for the time being, with Ge City’s investigations this strict, once time turned long, the possibility of being found would be higher.

In any case, all was to be doomed.

◈◈◈

Just when Elder Chen’s head started hurting from thinking to much, a group of people quietly walked within a thick forest.

Bai Li was at the very front of the group leading the way. The mission this time, other than Bai Li, those who were participating were all the sect’s elders. Bai Li long had expected this. However, when knowing who the leading elder was, Bai Li was still surprised.

The elder that would lead the group did not join at the very beginning. The path they headed to Qi Qin with this time was a bit strange- they did not take the closest route directly from Jiu Xuan Sect to Qi Qin dynasty, but wound through some roads, and halfway through, they passed by the central region of Jin Tang dynasty. Everyone all knew that Jin Tang dynasty was one of the participants this time, but in the end, Jin Tang had not publicized their attitude even to this day, so both parties still maintained peace on the surface.

But it was merely a peace on the surface.

With the Huai waters dividing Jin Tang dynasty’s south and north in the middle, the Qing Ming towers to the south close to the capital already appeared with some abnormal circumstances. Jin Tang dynasty’s south region was already very far from Jiu Xuan Sect that was closer to Huang Ling dynasty, Jiu Xuan Sect was only at the branches set up in the comparatively larger provinces and the constructed Qing Ming towers in Jin Tang’s south. Since Qi Qin dynasty’s upheaval, at the same time Jiu Xuan Sect was purging the sect, they were also urgently contacting the south branches and the elders guarding the south Qing Ming towers.

They had certainly made contact, but Yi He Ping did not feel that the situation was really as the news transmitted back suggested, with nothing happening.

Thus, this time, when they headed to Qi Qin dynasty in preparation to take the remaining members of the Nine Provinces Private Bank, they made a detour between Jin Tang’s central region.

On one hand, it was to avoid the heavy defence definitely hidden on the shortest road between Jiu Xuan Sect to Qi Qin, and enter from the rear flank where it was the weakest, on another hand, it was also to investigate the circumstances within Jin Tang’s borders. The investigation this time was extremely secretive and low-key. The elders only observed from a far distance from the cities in the night, and did not pass by any Qing Ming towers nor did they enter any cities on the way. Thankfully, these elders’ cultivations were extremely high, so they were able to retain this kind of pace, only Bai Li whose cultivation was not enough was carried by elders taking turns.

Though Bai Li said that she knew a few more things that other disciples, but as for the actual secrets, she did not actually know that much.

Thus, on the entire way, Bai Li only saw the elders’ faces turn more and more grave, yet did not know why.

She only saw soldiers dressed in armour patrolling above the cities, but other than the armour on the soldiers that seemed a bit strange, there wasn’t anything else different.

After going by several provinces in a row, the elders seemed to be under the guidance of a signal, and arrived at one place.

Waiting there, was an Elder Qin dressed in black robes, who long announced isolation at Bing Province’s Qing Ming tower’s accident.

When Bai Li saw Elder Qin, she felt like she faintly understood some things, yet also seemed like there were even more things she didn’t understand.

Elder Qin carried a blade, and the figure standing within the darkness seemed to melt into the colours of the night. Compared with his usual appearance of going on a rampage frequently at Li Range like lighting, yelling at the disciples how they were practically a bunch of idiots, the Elder Qin standing within the night was practically another person. Silent, icy, yet seemingly having aged a lot more.

After seeing Elder Qin, the founding elder who lead the group before this had a secret discussion with him for a very long time, and in the end, Elder Qin gave a ring to that founding elder.

The founding elder nodded their head, then left the group and returned to Jiu Xuan Sect, so the following leader turned into Elder Qin.

After joining with Elder Qin, they no longer investigated into the circumstances inside Jin Tang, and headed towards the northeast, setting off in the direction of Qi Qin dynasty’s defence line. After not investigating any longer, their speed turned much quicker- today, they reached a place not far from Qin Qin dynasty’s borders, and further east, would be a relatively bigger city, Ge City.

Though it was said it was an area of the defence line’s rear flank that was comparatively weak, this weakness was actually just a relativity.

When they were within a short distance of ten and some miles, the elders used spiritual insight to influence several ten trumpet birds, and let them unintelligibly leave.

Trumpet birds. This kind of spirit bird that was found everywhere on the land of the twelve dynasties, that were recognized as being untamable before, at this time, already completely became domesticated birds that were controlled by the dynasties. They were the monitoring eyes that were all over the place, and also hidden and hard-to-perceive speedy birds. There was someone from the dynasties who researched into the method to controlling this bird, and formed a secret network belonging to the dynasties.

When they arrived at the border of the blockade, this secretive group finally stopped.

Though the inside of Qi Qin dynasty’s borders were strictly guarded, in this kind of complicated situation, Qi Qin dynasty could not possibly control each location. After Jiu Xuan Sect lost a few people, they still left a portion of people at Qi Qin dynasty. According to the news they got, there was a group of survivors from the Private Bank that reached Ge City, except, this group of people were particularly cunning and agile in their actions- their identities were constantly being changed, so the people hidden in Qi Qin’s borders had no way of establishing contact with the other party.

After knowing that the elder leading the Nine Provinces Private Bank was Jiang Chi, Elder Qin’s first reaction was: what kind of joke is this.

He knew Jiang Chi. He was considered the most stubborn and most non-Bank-like person in the Nine Provinces Private Bank, and also a rarely seen sword cultivator within the Bank. Because he was not gifted enough back then, he joined the Nine Provinces Private Bank. But this Jiang Chi was also a talented person, by borrowing the Bank’s enormous wealth[1], it let him who did not have much gift to research another way of cultivating in the sword.

Though the path he took did not fit with the normal way of sword cultivation, in regards to conduct, Jiang Chi was certainly a complete and thorough sword cultivator.

A bunch of old bones, the type that was dry and stiff, yet so stubborn it made people’s head hurt.

To say anyone else lived on and brought the disciples to run to a place close to the borders, Elder Qin could believe it, but he could not believe it was that one-tracked bastard Jiang Chi. Someone like Jiang Chi, no matter how one thought, was an idiot who would rather have jade break than leave tiles intact[2], who’d probably fight with someone to the death- in the end, not only would he kill the opponent, he would get himself killed too.

Meeting force with force, going head-on, was Jiang Chi’s style.

Elder Qin’s temper was not considered all that good, and back then, he fought quite a bit with Jiang Chi, so they were considered sworn enemies. It was only until after the two people became the sect’s important elders, that this then stopped for a bit.

After knowing the Bank’s incident, Elder Qin was debating whether or not he should burn some paper money for Jiang Chi in consideration that he fought that much with him back then.

And the result, was that Jiang Chi actually lived on.

Not only did he live on, he even escaped to Ge City with a few disciples.

When the second piece of news came, Elder Qin’s astonishment was then relieved.

Turns out, that old donut[3] was with them, no wonder that bunch of old bones Jiang Chi did not hang up half way.

After knowing Elder Chen was together, Elder Qin was not as worried for those survivors of the Bank—— with that fatty there, those people would definitely not die for the time being.

But to get together with the people of the Bank, was a problem.

The Qing Ming tower within Ge City already changed, and after stepping into Ge City, Elder Qin’s group would feel a certain degree of restraint. Not only that, The gate guards going in and out of Ge City were particularly strict, as though also on watch for people entering the borders to receive the survivors of the Bank. Jiu Xuan Sect’s people had no certainty in regards to the city’s circumstances, and before they knew of Jiang Chi’s group’s specific location, they could not immediately enter the city, all to avoid the situation of not only not getting the people out, but also costing themselves as well.

[1] 财大气粗- to either mean a) their mannerisms are out of the ordinary due to their extreme wealth, or b) to use their wealth to be imposing on people
[2] 宁为玉碎不为瓦全- or, to die a hero than live as a coward.
[3] 老油条- as oily as donuts are, to describe the slippery, dishonest and cunning people.

Chapter 187

Ge City was only a neither big nor small city.

This place already close to Jin Tang and South Chen. As it was Qi Qin dynasty’s borders, commerce was not as flourishing as the south’s prefectures, and the not-big city normally emerged with a languid appearance. In this period of time, these days should be Ge City’s most heavily observed in history, where group and groups of elite soldiers and iron-clad horses patrolled outside the city, along with hurriedly coming and going mysterious people.

A strange, harsh coldness permeated inside the city.

Feng Ping Inn[1] was only a mid-sized inn. The lower floor sold wine whereas the upper floors housed guests, and was located fairly distant from the city’s west market, thus, though the inn’s name was decent, the patrons were not many. But the innkeeper was of a sloven personality, and as long as the account books were not at a deficit, there was no other demand. They would usually move a reclining chair to the front of the inn to bask in the sun, making even the workers under him barely lazing and hardly working.

Lu Er is a clerk of this small store, who just lived on for a meal, and what he was wanted, was only just a wife, kids, and a hot bed[2].

Just when Lu Er arrived at Ge City, he was still not used to this kind of atmosphere, but once time turned long, he declined into laziness within this inn’s indolence.

When one actually gave it some thought, a person’s life was only just that- struggling high or struggling low, rising above others, once it ended, they were all just a bunch of white bones, there was not much difference. Since it was like this, why struggle that bitterly?

But since these days, Lu Er was faintly a bit uneasy inside. The current son of Heaven of Qi Qin made shocking accomplishments, and the Nine Provinces Private Bank that, in the eyes of the common folk, was as lofty as immortals was finished by that young emperor’s hands. For the most of the commoners, for the Bank to no longer exist, was actually not some upsetting matter, or perhaps it should be said…… everyone was actually looking forward to it long ago.

Once the Bank was destroyed, the farmers who only had very few infertile fields were given rich farmland at this time.

That day they were handing out land outside Ge City, Lu Er also went to take a peek.

The Uncle Lin he recognized knelt on the fields he was given, and piously kissed the ash-covered soil as the old tears coursed down. Everyone forgot the natural fear they held towards the armoured soldiers, and happily ran towards the farmland they obtained. Countless people kowtowed in the direction of the capital, and loudly repeated how the son of Heaven was virtuous. Lu Er was a person who wandered over here, and the matter of strangers getting land was not really related with him, but when seeing this scene, he got excited with them too.

—— In reality, a majority of the people under these skies had no ambitions. All they asked for was only just that little bit. With some land, if the food they grew was enough for a family to eat, if they could live on, then that was enough. Having grandiose plans and being on top was something that very few would want.

Now that Qi Qin’s son of Heaven gave everyone an opportunity of being able to stably live on, everyone spontaneously liked him.

Except, within this span of happiness, Lu Er strangely recalled those silent soldiers, and those coming and going unnamed people in the night.

Thus, unease rose up. Lu Er liked the scene of the Ge City people he recognized kneeling within the fields happily crying, he wanted this scene to continue on for a very long time.

“One room.”
Lu Er lifted his head up, and saw a very young lord standing in front of him toss some silvers down.

That was a lord who looked to be a bit thin and weak, with their features all delicate, and when they spoke, their voice was not loud. This young lord who planned on staying in the inn looked to be from South Chen’s according to their clothes, and they had brought an old servant. The old servant hunched their body, and their face was filled with wrinkles. The two looked to worn and weary. Lu Er took the silvers, then led this young lord with a surname of Bai and headed upstairs. When he was walking up, that young lord asked him about the road towards the capital, and the matters about the previous poetry gathering.

Lu Er suddenly understood.

This young lord should be a scholar over from South Chen dynasty, who came south to participate in the poetry gatherings hosted by Qi Qin’s son of Heaven. Qi Qin’s poetry gatherings was renowned throughout the world, so people like Lord Bai were of a large number.

As Lu Er spoke, he led the two people to a room on the third floor.

Lord Bai would turn their head and listen, slightly nodding their head from time to time, and followed up with a few questions.

When passing by the second floor, the footsteps of the old servant following behind Lord Bai inconspicuously paused, and the hand hung by their side moved.

◈◈◈

In a place not far from the prefectural executive’s mansion, Ge City set up an inspection point as of late.

On the surface, it was Qi Qin dynasty’s establishment, but those who were here were actually Jin Tang’s secret guards, the ones belonging to “White Crow”. The Jin Tang guards called “White Crow” were exclusively in charge of information, and recently, the back of the hunt on the Bank’s surviving numbers had the shadows of these White Crows present.

The masks of the guards belonging to “White Crow” had silver lines, symbolizing crow feathers.

Ji Wu was the leader of the “White Crows” stationed at Ge City. From his surname, one would know, he was a member of Jin Tang dynasty’s Ji family, the imperial clan. Jin Tang’s Ji clan was certainly a madman-like family- the number of members in Jin Tang’s Ji clan who joined the secret guards to become a killer hidden in the dark were actually quite many——in a family where even the princes and emperors would be put onto the board, each person became a wager.

Essential to the cooperation with Qi Qin dynasty, the destruction of the Nine Provinces Private Bank was a very important stage of the plan, thus, Ji Wu was sent here as the one responsible for the borders.

Looking at the circumstances now, Qi Qin dynasty seemed to have the upper hand, but in reality, it was just temporary.

As of now, the remaining immortal sects did not resort to direct measures yet. The immortal sects were stunned by the power the dynasties saved in secret, thus, were in the stage of lying in the dark investigating. On the other hand, the dynasties were in fear of the information the immortals sects gathered in the long period of time, thus, even if they had the upper hand on the surface, Qi Qin did not dare to make a reckless move. Both parties knew a face-on battle was unavoidable, but also used a delicate tacit understanding to maintain a strange stalemate.

Steadiness was only on the surface, bloodiness prevailed in the darkness.

A few days ago, Ji Wu received a secret letter, and obtained the whereabouts of a group of surviving disciples of the Bank they were constantly tracking down in this period of time—— they were at Ge City, and were planning to break through the line of defence to head to Jiu Xuan Sect.

Ji Wu was not surprised the other party would choose Ge City as a breakthrough point, as this was certainly a place where the line of defence was comparatively weak. However, not even one hundred miles outside Ge City, was a natural mountain range extending from the northeast to southwest, forming into a natural protective screen- a mobile army of Qi Qin dynasty was hidden just within that stretch of mountains.

To leave Qi Qin dynasty and head towards Jiu Xuan Sect, one needed to go over that mountain range.

In addition, trumpet birds were hovering high over the blue canopy in the curtains of clouds, severing immortal cultivators’ channel of riding swords.

In the orders Ji Wu received, he had to not spare any costs to kill these people.

One of the people there must die.

[1] 丰平- separately means plentiful and peaceful
[2] 炕 (kang)- a brick bed to which people light fires underneath to heat, a custom of the north.

Chapter 188

Chapter One Hundred Eighty-eight, Fire of the White Night, Scheming Tigers of Hide. (⽩夜之⽕, 与虎谋⽪)
Ji Wu held up a neither big nor small box, and walked inside the Qing Ming tower, heading up neither hurriedly nor slowly along the stone staircase coiling the body of the tower.

Ji Wu had gone inside of the Qing Ming tower before, but at that time, the Qing Ming tower was still managed by the immortal sects. The body of the Qing Ming tower was pitch-black, embedded with countless spirit stones, and the light of the spirit stones were dazzling, so when one looked, it was like the universe flooding down. Now, the stone body of this Qing Ming tower in Ge City was flowing with gold light, and had already completely changed.

At the very middle of the Qing Ming tower that was placed with a pillar, the light of stars originally hovering around there already turned into a kind of deep-gold colour that bore a bit of an imposing air.

Whether a black Qing Ming tower was better, or a gold Qing Ming tower was better, Ji Wu was actually not very sure.

Unlike when the Nine Provinces Private Bank was managing it, the inside of the current Qing Ming tower was very quiet, with no one coming about. Normal people had no way of freely going around either. The gold light swimming within the tower stone body and the deep gold hovering within the tower all carried a pressure and danger that made people unable to breathe, so when walking in the current Qing Ming tower, Ji Wu felt like he was trudging in the bottom of a deep sea.

Because of this place’s owner’s permission, he could then head up story by story along the stairs, however, that kind of fearful pressure still made Ji Wu’s back let out a layer of dense cold sweat.

When he stepped the last step of the last floor in the Qing Ming tower, Ji Wu secretly let out a breath.

Sitting cross-legged at the very top story and guarding Ge City’s Qing Ming tower, was only one person.

A man dressed in grey long robes closed his eyes as he sat at the very top of the Qing Ming tower. The surroundings were barren and empty, with nothing around, while the winds on the top of the tower poured in, and blew at his sleeves into loudly rustling. Compared to the entire Qing Ming tower’s ever-present pressure, there was not even a sliver of pressure on the grey-robed man’s body. His entire being was like that grey robe of his, obscure, and dusty. The only colour, was in front of him.

The grey-robed man’s front was placed with a narrow and long arced blade. The blade had no sheath, while the body of it was a colour that was completely different from its owner, a bright-red colour.

That dazzling of a bright-red colour, this was the sole piercing hue on top of the Qing Ming tower.

Lucid, yet dangerous.

When the sound of footsteps stopped, the grey-robed man slowly opened his eyes.

The grey-robed man’s face did not wear a mask as he was not a secret guard of Jin Tang. It was hard to say what kind of man he was- he was like the grey robes on his body, where his entire being was dark, and inconspicuous to people. His facial features could not be said to be refined since his face was emaciated, but the instant he opened his eyes, he strangely gave people a kind of feeling, like a blade that shook off the dust off its body.

Thus, the cold light leapt within the fluctuating dusty space.

Ji Wu lowered his head, and avoided that instance of the fierce cold light when the grey-robed man opened his eyes.

“What is it?”    The grey-robed man opened his mouth. His voice was a bit odd, like it was the first time he opened it after not saying anything for a very long time, emerging with a kind of unusual hoarseness.

Ji Wu took the not-big bronze box and placed on the ground in front of the grey-robed man, not far from that bright-red blade, “The people of the Nine Provinces Private Bank have hidden within Ge City, there is one among them who must die here.”

The grey-robed man did not move. He lowered his eyes to look at the bronze box placed by the blade, “What do you people need me to do?”

“Use the Qing MIng tower to close the entire Ge City.” Ji Wu calmly said.

“With this?”

The grey-robed man reached out to take the bronze box, but did not open it. He seemed to know what was inside the bronze box.

Ji Wu nodded his head.

“Do you people know what this implies? Completely scheming with tigers for its hide, are Jin Tang’s people just like you guys, not caring for anything anymore?” The grey-robed man lowly said.

“This is not only our intent, but it is also your people’s intent.” Ji Wu calmly spoke, then took out a letter from his chest. There was a faint fire symbol on the letter—— that was the stamp of the Qi Qin imperial family. This was a letter that came from the hands of Qi Qin’s emperor, Bai Yi Qing. The grey-robed man received the letter, but did not open it, “I understand.”

After Ji Wu left, the grey-robed man then opened the secret letter, and expressionlessly skimmed over it once.

After primordial energy shook the read secret letter into ashes, the grey-robed man took the bright-red blade and stood up, and the strong winds above the Qing Ming tower whistled from all around. Standing on top of this ninety-nine-floored Qing Ming tower high enough it entered the layer of clouds, the entire Ge City was in view. Here in the skies, one could very clearly see that the entire city was actually being enveloped in a faint gold light, and those strange-aired soldiers actually followed a set rule, standing in the position of the Eight Diagram’s fourth Zhen(?)[1],and also that a strange air was circulating and gathering with the Qing Ming tower as the center.

In front of the immortal sects that were left from the era of Ten Thousand Immortals, that experienced the passage of a long time’s accumulation, the dynasties’ power was truthfully too frail.

Relying on the power of mortals to overthrow the immortals sects that were like the sun, was like mayflies shaking trees.

And so, in this war, the dynasties were borrowing power.

Borrowing other ancient powers to contend against the immortal sects, the Eighteen Clans’ “demons”, as well as…… the ancient emperors’ power.

Scheming tigers of their hide.

Not only did people of the immortal sects know that the Qing Ming towers were connected with the ancient emperors’ burial grounds, but the “demons” of the Eighteen Clans knew this as well. The ancient emperors of the era of Chaos ended the rule of the crude beasts back in the Savage era, those ancient emperors were people who held power able to order the heavens and the earth. The power of the ancient emperors was so far strong, even if they fell, their dying will and power was already so horrifying it was able to easily rouse up a single space.

In the era of Ten Thousand Immortals, to solve the influence that the dying ancient emperors’ will and power had towards the space after their fall, the Eighteen Clans of Old built Qing Ming towers, borrowing the world’s star’s power to suppress the burial grounds of the ancient emperors and their places of death.

All this time, the Eighteen Clans of Old cautiously guarded over these secrets.

However, those who knew of these were not only the Eighteen Clans of Old who guarded the ancient emperors’ graves, but also the sealed Eighteen Clans of Old’s fallen demons. After being released from the seals by the dynasties, these matters were also known by the dynasties.

If the mortals’ strength was destined to only be of nobodies, then the dynasties did not mind scheming with tigers of their hide.

The fallen demons of Eighteen Clans of Old who interacted with the ancient emperors the longest joined the dynasties, helping the dynasty borrow the ancient emperors’ power to transform the army, remodelling the city, and creating an army that could fight against the immortal sects. In truth, within Qi Qin dynasty’s lands right now, there was a continuous power of the ancient emperors being drawn out using the Qing Ming tower as the medium, changing this city’s spiritual energy bit by bit, and transforming the army that were stationed at the city’s points.

However, this was different from the orders Ji Wu brought today.

The grey-robed man waved his hand, and the bronze box on the floor flew up, then fell into his hands.

He opened the bronze box, inside, was a bronze talisman.

The bronze talisman looked to be a bit similar to the one that Qi Qin dynasty gave to the immortal cultivators that joined the dynasty—— or perhaps it should be said, the bronze talismans given to the recruited immortal cultivators, was the simplified version of the one in the grey- robed man’s hands. Once the bronze box was opened, the bronze talisman was exposed in the air, and the swift and fierce winds above this span of high sky stopped in an instant, like the entire space suddenly sunk into a very deep stagnation.

Faintly, the space surrounding the Qing Ming tower appeared to seep out with slivers of warping.

“Scheming with tigers for its hide, don’t know if it’s actually right or wrong.”    The grey-robed man briefly laughed, and with a turn of his long blade, cut open his own hand, and blood dripped on the surface of the bronze talisman.

Once things reached this step, in truth, right and wrong was of no concern already. No matter if it was the immortal sects or the dynasties, they had no way of retreating to speak of, and people of all sorts, for their own goals, joined in these raging waves.

When the bronze talisman was gradually lighting up, the grey-robed man lifted his head up to look in the direction of Qi Qin dynasty’s southern capital, as though he saw that frail young emperor.

That young boy who once paid a visit in a rainy night- who was able to think that such a sullen frail prince would do such a world-shocking thing today?

Once the bronze talisman was activated, the relationship between the ancient emperors’ power and the space of the twelve dynasties would be more and more inseparable. This was something that the Eighteen Clans of Old exhausted all their strength to stop, but just like the crude beasts were unable to stop Kong Jia’s army back then, now, the current withered Eighteen Clans had no way of stopping the “doors” hidden in the Qing Ming towers from being opened either.

The Qing Ming towers, were actually a bunch of doors connecting the twelve dynasties with the ancient emperors’ graves, and their dying spaces.

All this time, these “doors” were all tightly shut, and once it was
opened with an erroneous method, it would create a terrifying disaster- the Mausoleum of Ten Million was an example of this, and Bing Province’s Qing Ming tower was also as a result of it. Opening the door needed a key, and this key, was the bronze talisman in the grey-robed man’s hands right now.

It had been very long time. The people of the immortal sects and the people of JIn Tang, Qi Qin, and South Chen, were finding this bronze talisman in secret, and in the end, the dynasties had the upper hand, and most of the bronze talismans fell into the dynasties’ hands.

On this front, it was the countries that had more of the advantage.

Using this bronze talisman, one could completely control of the entire Qing Ming tower, and open this forbidden “door”. At that time, they certainly could completely control the entire Ge City, and the Bank’s survivors certainly had no possibility of escaping. But with this, the ancient emperors’ power would completely invade Ge City.

Was letting the ancient emperors’ power that closely connect together with the space of the twelve dynasties, really a good decision?

The grey-robed man was not sure.

Only……

“Be it the immortals sects or the Eighteen Clans, or even the ancient emperors.” Within the hazy night of rain, the young man who lost his father and brothers was draped in a black big cloak, while his face was a pale- white colour, figure emaciated, yet, his voice was even colder than any blade or sword he had ever seen, “They are actually not that much different.”

When he pointed out that the fallen demons of the Eighteen Clans could not be easily trusted, and that the ancient emperors’ power was extremely dangerous, that young man who was immersed in writings before slightly smiled.

“Why are they able to be so lofty? When the immortal cultivators fight, the ordinary people implicated in the aftermath had always had no place to speak of the injustice. People who hold extraordinary power, to normal people, are immortals, gods, would gods feel regret or shame due to a nobody’s death? No.”

The young man’s voice was very light, carrying the coldness of a rainy night, while the boundless rain came in a downpour, washing away the entire turmoil-filled mortal world.

The young man standing beneath the eaves looked at the rain in the black night that was like it was to come down until the last day of the world. Inside his pupils was an incomprehensible, distant gloominess, however, he clearly felt that within those gloomy eyes, slowly pulsated with a cold fire.

“The immortal sects, Eighteen Clans, demons, ancient emperors…… actually did nothing wrong.”      The frail young man who was about to become Qi Qin’s emperor extended his hand, and caught that rain coming down from the skies.

“As long as in this world, there is still a day where this tyrannical power that not all people are able to go against exists, this world will eternally never have peace and stability.”

“If one wanted the four seas to be peaceful, then it needs a stable order.” The young man turned over, and calmly looked at him.

“I…… want to establish an unbreakable order.”

In that instant, he saw the deep parts of that frail young man’s eyes jumping with a mad fire.

Thus, he understood. It wasn’t that Bai Yi Qing did not understand the dangers of borrowing the ancient emperors’ power, only, Bai Yi Qing…… that young man who was always ignored by the world, his heart had a much more mad, much more unimaginable plan.

In the rainy night that covered over the entire world, he knelt towards Bai Yi Qing, took down the blade on his waist, and held it up to the frail young man.

From that moment on, he no longer possessed one of the eighteen ancient surnames, and became a nameless person under the Qi Qin dynasty’s emperor Bai Yi Qing.

From the moment he knelt towards Bai Yi Qing, the grey-robed man understood, he would soon be destined to have a day where he would draw and point blades with the Eighteen Clans’ people for revenge, however, when this day truly came, he still felt a bit of grievance.

In the end, it was destiny that was impermanent.

◈◈◈
“Their reactions are much faster than expected.”

Elder Qin pressed the blade on his waist, and lifted his head up with a stern expression while looking at the circles and circles of gold waves that were like ripples slowly opening up in the night sky.

Bai Li was standing behind Elder Qin.

The entire group from Jiu Xuan Sect could not all enter Ge City, so in the end, Bai Li disguised herself as a young lord coming from South Chen dynasty who was planning to participate in the poetry gathering, while Elder Qin pretended to be an old servant, making it up to them to enter Ge City and establish contact with everyone from the Bank.

It had to be said, Elder Chen was truthfully far too cunning. To find them, Bai Li and Elder Qin had to use the most time-consuming method. Using the knowledge Bai Li had of Ge City, draw out all the possible places that the Nine Provinces Private Bank could stay and hide in the situation where the entire city was under martial law, then, it would be up to Elder Qin to try them one by one.

Elder Qin and Elder Jiang were considered to be sworn enemies for many years, so they were extremely familiar with each other’s blade auras.

Elder Qin’s cultivation was deep and profound, and was able to let out a very thin sliver of aura that would not draw in other immortal cultivators’ senses.

At last, Bai Li and Elder Qin finally established contact with the Private Bank’s people in this inn where business was not that good.

Elder Chen unfittingly crouched in front of the window, and looked at the sky’s abnormalities with a blank look, and after a long time, a profanity leapt out from his mouth.

Though Elder Chen’s cultivation was not that much, either way, he was an elder- he still had the ability to perceive things. He could feel the gold ripples appearing at the peak of the Qing Ming tower completely sealing the entire Ge City bit by bit, and that heavy water-like pressure, as time progressed, would soon create a fatal constraint on them immortal cultivators who did not have the bronze talisman.
“There’s no more time.”         Elder Jiang also looked at the sky. “We must rush out of Ge City tonight.” Elder Qin coldly spoke.
Though he came to save the people of the Bank, he and Elder Jiang still did not see eye-to-eye.

Elder Jiang coldly humphed, but did not retort.

Elder Chen frowned, and left the room to gather the other Private Bank disciples. The circumstances this time was very obvious- if the transformation of the Qing Ming tower was completely finished, the immortal cultivators staying in Ge City who did not have the bronze talismans the dynasty handed out, would completely be suppressed into good-for-nothings. At that time, it would be like catching a turtle in a jar[2], caught with a stretch of a hand[3].

Elder Chen was typically cowardly and cunning, if they could not go head-on, then don’t go head on, if they can run, then run.

But the situation now was obvious that they could only forcibly rush
out.

When the night came, the watchman dragged out their voice as they
hit the gong in Ge City’s streets.

The abnormality in the skies did not have much of an effect on these normal commoners—— starting from when Qi Qin dynasty destroyed the Nine Provinces Private Bank, everyone was already accustomed to the strange changes in the city from time to time.

The old watchman coughed as he turned to a small alley in the night winds, and when the old watchman turned the corner, several black figures passed by his back without a sound.

The old watchman did not sense it at all.

And at the same time, in the inspection point, Ji Wu sternly stood in the courtyard while several secret guards wearing masks stood behind him
—— the masks these guards were wearing did not have white lines, it was grey.

These secret guards belonged to “Grey Plume”, the ones among the guards that were exclusively responsible for killing people.

Ji Wu’s hand was pressed on the handle of the sword on his waist- he was in a state of preparing for battle.

Those people hidden within Ge City also felt the changes of the Qing Ming tower. If they were not willing to let themselves be caught without a fight, the other party would definitely move and break the defence within Ge City to rush out of the encirclement before the Qing Ming tower’s power was completely released.

Before the skies turned light, the Qing Ming tower would completely finish.

So, the other party only had this night, [Ji Wu’s side] was the same. Ji Wu stroked the patterns on the hilt, with his face sunk like water.
Long before the change of the Qing Ming tower, he had arranged for other preparations, all to wait to move tonight. Trumpet birds hovered in the skies above Ge City, monitoring each corner of the city, and a large number of the immortal cultivators who joined the dynasty with bronze talismans were spread in various corners of the city to patrol around.

The “White Crow” guards were concealed in the corners of the city centre, overseeing the entire district’s abnormalities.

The army that went through changes already silently set out to the top of the walls, all on strict alert, and the remaining, were these people led by Ji Wu.

Ji Wu was waiting for that time to move.

As the winds of the night turned more and more cooler, the skies above gathered with a layer of clouds.

It might rain.   Ji Wu thought. As he lifted his head to look at the sky, a drop of icy water fell onto his cheeks.

A white glow rose up in the night sky.

Ji Wu’s gaze suddenly turned keen, “Go!” He shouted sternly.
[1] From a certain order of the Eight Diagrams, fourth in sequence, Zhen. Though, given its confusion, I feel like 四震 is more a typo for 四象, or the four divine beasts/stars.

[2] 瓮中捉鳖- expression for easy prey/catch, in an inescapable situation.
[3] ⼿到擒来- another expression for easy catch.

Chapter 189

Chapter One Hundred Eighty-nine, a Bitter Night, Unrelated To Justice. (肃杀之夜, ⽆关正义)
The gold-coloured light formed circles and circles in the night sky, spreading out like ripples, where the darkness in the streets of Ge City was disturbed by this drifting light. This intermingling of light and dark was a bit mysterious.

After the battle between Qi Qin dynasty and the immortal sects was placed on the surface, there would often be sect’s people and the dynasty’s people fighting at close quarters in the night, thus, Qi Qin’s commoners would no longer walk in the streets at nightfall to avoid being involved.

Now, after nightfall, those who would walk on the streets, other than the watchmen, would be left with the people who held blades, and would risk their lives at any time.

Lu Er’s hand was pressed on the ornamental blade’s hilt on his
waist.

He used the excuse of going to the brothels for a drink, and stepped
out from the inn. When he was going out, the innkeeper was even cursing at him how he was a player, wanting women but not his life. But in truth, how could he be in the mood to find some woman.

If the innkeeper was here, he would definitely not recognize that the person who was wearing a bamboo hat with their waist hanging a blade was the slippery clerk who liked to doze off. Other than that long blade, a dark bronze talisman was also hung on Lu Er’s waist.

That bronze talisman already made Lu Er’s actual identity clear.

He wasn’t some clerk lazing on the job, nor was he some refugee who came from the south. He was an immortal cultivator subordinate to Qi Qin dynasty—— Lu Er joined Qi Qin dynasty before he came to Ge City.

Actually, the dynasty had been recruiting immortal cultivators since very long ago.

Though the immortal sects’ influence was very big, not all immortal cultivators belonged to the immortal sects. On one hand, it was due to the strictness in the immortal sects choosing disciples, on the other, not all people was willing to side with the sects.

This portion of immortal cultivators may not be of the immortal realm’s mainstream, but in truth, the numbers were not small either.

Lu Er was originally this type of immortal cultivator.

Later on, the people from the dynasty found him, and he joined the dynasty.

Not long after joining, Qi Qin dynasty sent a group of immortal cultivators including Lu Er to the border of Qi Qin dynasty. They were bestowed new identities, some rather inconspicuous identities.

Lu Er was sent to Ge City. Here, no one recognized him. On the surface, he was an ordinary little clerk, but in secret, he was Qi Qin dynasty’s informer, gathering information for the dynasty for several years like a single day, paying attention to the movements of the immortal sects in Ge City.

People that were like him were plenty, they concealed within the cities of Qi Qin dynasty, and became another pair of eyes in the dark. These days, the reason as to why the sect’s people in each city were repeatedly exposed, was related with these nails the dynasty long already buried.

[Like how] three inches of ice is not formed from a day of cold[1], sawing a tree in half is not from a single day’s work.

From the looks of it, Qi Qin dynasty seemed like they were using a strength of a clean sweep[2] to destroy the Nine Provinces Private Bank like a miracle. However, in the truth, where were that many miracles in the world?

The so-called miracle, was merely created from the the accumulation of days and months, through countless terrifying and tremendous efforts.

Only the true participants would know just how much effort and sacrifice was hidden beneath the surface.

When Lu Er was just sent to Ge City and became a clerk, he was actually not all that content. But once it turned long, Lu Er gradually came to like this job. He liked Ge City’s indolence and tranquility, and liked the peace here.

However, just like he was not actually a normal clerk, this tranquility would not carry on forever.

When he received that strip of paper written with a short order, Lu Er understood, his lazing days were probably about to end.

Gold ripples in the sky drifted open circle by circle, and the gold light fleetingly swam within the small alleys of Ge City. Lu Er walked step by step while gripping the sword hilt, and felt that the incoming winds seemed to carry a frosty hint of cold to it.

Tonight, within Ge City, immortal cultivators like Lu Er all moved, and sealed and patrolled one street after another. With this big of a commotion, the orders that Lu Er received was that once he met a immortal cultivator not belonging to the dynasty, he was to kill them on the spot[3].

Kill on the spot?

Lu Er did not feel that people who were able to make the dynasties use such big commotion to prepare to kill then, were ones that he could go up against. The possibility of him being killed by the other person was much higher than him killing the other person.

As the winds of the night grew stronger, the hint of cold turned stronger.

Lu Er could not help but shiver, and just when he wanted to grumble, his breath suddenly paused.

—— That’s not right…… why would he shiver from the plain and ordinary wind of the night?

The thought passed by his mind like lightning, and before he could carefully think about it, Lu Er suddenly turned around.

◈◈◈
Elder Qin slowly put that gloomy blade that did not conform to the spirit of the martial arts into its sheath.

Bai Li took one step forward and caught the falling corpse, avoiding the sound the corpse would make when it hit the ground.

This swordsman who was killed by Elder Qin felt the abnormality at the last moment, but it was already late. Before he could even turn around, as the blade in his hands was unsheathed not even a single inch, Elder Qin’s blade took away his life.

Bai Li silently placed the swordsman’s corpse onto the ground. The bamboo hat worn on the swordsman’s head slanted, and in the gold drifting light, Bai Li saw that face beneath the hat. She knitted her eyebrows—— it was that lazing clerk’s face from the inn they were staying at before.

Bai Li’s thoughts came to, and understood that the other person was Qi Qin dynasty’s spy.

Once Bai Li came to this, she could not help but let out cold sweat- the first place they stopped at after entering Ge City was this person’s inn, but thankfully, the other party did not discover her and Elder Qin’s identity, otherwise, the plan this time would probably fail.

“Elder?” Bai Li lowly spoke, and looked at the black-robed and stern-faced Elder Qin.

The Bank’s people’s pace was also very fast- after making the decision to escape before the Qing Ming tower’s transformation completely finished, Elder Jiang and Elder Chen very quickly summoned the surviving disciples—— but there were not many people. Including Bai Li and Elder Qin, their group numbered a total of fifteen people.

A branch that was only second to the main sect, after reaching this Ge City through a journey of chasing and breaking out, in the end, only remained with a mere thirteen people.

A desolation of this kind of extent, made people grieve and hesitate.

The Private Bank’s nine disciples were draped in cloaks. The Bank’s disciples’ strength was not as strong as Elder Jiang and them, and were unable borrow their own spiritual insight to confuse the sky’s trumpet birds. Thus, they had to borrow the cloak on their bodies that had an unique ability to conceal themselves.

Each and every one of these young disciples of the Nine Provinces Private Bank who were originally so rich they could leak oil that it made other sect’s disciples teeth ache, at this time, could be described as haggard, nor did their bodies have that kind of sparkling glow from the spiritual treasures and tools they usually had. When Bai Li first saw these Bank’s disciples, she pretty much could not believe that these people were the “immoral for the wealth” fellows of the Bank.

Elder Jiang lead these remaining nine disciples, and his dead-pan face turned even more colder.

Elder Chen took one look at the clerk killed by Elder Qin, and with his facial colour not that good-looking either, he cursed, “No wonder this old man almost turned ship and got seized in a trap the few times before, these people of Qi Qin are far too cunning, their eyes are everywhere.”

Elder Qin beckoned with his hands, and the bronze talisman on Lu Er’s waist soared up to the sky, and flew to the front of a disciple of the Private Bank.

“We have enough bronze talismans, let’s hurry.”     Elder Qin’s hand was already placed over the hilt, and did not loosen up.

Not only him, but Jiang Chi’s hand was also placed over the sword handle on his waist.

Three elders, other than the improper Elder Chen, were in a state of high alert.

Jiang Chi and Elder Qin was not like Elder Chen- they were people accustomed to fighting between life and death, though their operation was going smoothly, a type of faint unease flickered about, hovering over their heads.

This kind of feeling was a intuition they honed over fighting through life and death for that many years before.

Bai Li left Lu Er’s corpse, caught up to Elder Qin’s pace, and the group of people turned, about to head to the southwest’s auxiliary city gates. Just at this time, on top of a building about two streets away, a white light suddenly shot up to the sky.

“Not good.” Elder Qin’s face changed.

The winds swimming within the streets hastened all of a sudden, just like water that was originally flowing slowly suddenly turned rapid. The sound of wind suddenly turned shrill, like metal being dragged over a long distance.

A blade of light sudden flew out, carving up the winds fiercely going by in the small alley. When the light from the blade cut, it was like cutting apart a solid bronze wall, with a sound cold and distinct.

“Go!” Elder Qin shouted.

When it flew out, Elder Qin’s long blade turned, and cut towards a distant place from the back.

After Elder Qin’s blade of light flew out, the rapidly circulating winds suddenly paused, and the surroundings turned into a span of deathly stillness. After Elder Qin’s voice came down, the group of people hurriedly flew out without any hesitation.

The instant the wind was cut by the blade of light, two streets away, at the building where the white light rose up, a secret guard sitting cross- legged with their face wearing a white-lined mask violently coughed, as though they received a heavy blow. There was a trumpet bird that stopped on the tile of the eaves of the building.

He was a guard belonging to Jin Tang’s “White Crow”.

The White Crow extended their hand, and the trumpet bird flew down from the tile onto his hand.

“Qing Shi Street……” He hoarsely, arduously spoke.

And then, before he could finish the location, a shapeless blade aura came. The White Crow’s pupils abruptly expanded, and he stood up in a rush, wanting to avoid that blade of light coming from the side.

But it was already too late.

The building’s support pillars broke, and the blood from the masked White Crow flew up to the sky.

“Bei…… Bei San Way……”        The White Crow guard heavily fell to the ground, and a trumpet bird rushed to the skies from the dust.

—— Elder Qin’s group had been mistaken.

The patrolling immortal cultivators were not there to hold them up. Trumpet birds could not monitor the people of the immortal sects, but they were able to monitor those immortal cultivators’ whereabouts. The White Crow guards who were spread throughout Ge City’s districts only had one mission- through the feedback of the trumpet birds monitoring the immortal cultivators, find the Private Bank and Jiu Xuan Sect’s people’s whereabouts.

As rustling sounds of wind rose up, Ji Wu brought Grey Plume’s people with quick speed.

What they saw, was the scene of the blade of light coming down, the building collapsing, and the White Crow guard being killed.

[1] 冰冻三尺⾮⼀⽇之寒- equivalent to the English expression of how Rome was not built in a day.

[2] 摧枯拉朽- literally breaking the withered and rotten, to describe how easily one is crushing something.

[3] 格杀勿论- Kill without further discussion

Chapter 190

Within the icy-cold night winds, people wearing white-patterned masks put up small flags one after another, and the winds swimming in Ge City’s streets all linked together.

Wind was a gentle and formless object, but in this night, the winds all around formed an iron net, enveloping the entire Ge City inside it. The air current hurriedly going through the streets was as fierce as tens of thousands of blades. Misty and hazy white fog rose up from one building after after, swallowing street after street.

“Chaining Wind and Fog.”
Elder Qin lowly said.

When the white light rose up and they realized they fell into danger, Elder Qin resolutely let out a strike right there and then, and broke apart the wind-formed wall in the little alley, and lead everyone to quickly head in the direction of the city gates.

But the dynasty’s people had obviously resolved to have them buried here.

Not long after they left that little alley from before, the entire Ge City’s winds changed, and a misty white fog also rose up—— Chaining Wind and Fog. This was a formation spell prevailing in the era of Ten Thousand Immortals that originally should have been lost to time. With the entire city as the formation, the central area of the city would be used as the eye of the formation, mobilizing the entire city’s winds inside, and forming into a myriad of unavoidable chains, just like a giant spider web.

This was a web for hunting.

The chain of wind itself had no killing capability whatsoever, it only made the entire city into a giant spider web, but when the target of prey moved in the city, they must pass by the flowing winds. Just like how prey that hit into a spider web would have each and every one of its moves be transmitted to the hunting spider through the web, the whereabouts of the people who moved within the chain of winds would be given to the people at the formation eyes through the feedback of the net formed from the flowing wind.

The people who fell into the wind chains, had nowhere to hide.

And that white fog rising up was a natural barrier, concealing the figures of the predators.

This was an environment most suited for killers and assassins to make their moves.

The entire Ge City, at this time, already turned into a giant net. The Nine Province Private Bank’s people as well as Elder Qin and Bai Li were the prey that the net wanted to catch.

Elder Qin and Jiang Chi’s blades were already out of their sheaths, and the two stood across from each other, protecting the group in the middle, while the rest of the group quietly stood in the wind—— Elder Qin and Jiang Chi had fought for that many years. They may find each other eyesores, but having fought for that many years, no matter how it was said, there was still some tacit understanding between them.

When Elder Qin suddenly stopped in his steps, and lowly said those four words, “Chaining Wind and Fog”, Jiang Chi also instantly stopped in his steps, and waved his hand to have the Bank’s disciples stand quietly. His long sword then angled, and was focused on guard.

The surroundings were very quiet.

A sort of odd quiet.

The winds seemed like it turned into a swamp, slowly, thickly revolving around everyone as it moved. The misty white fog strangely rose up, and even with an immortal cultivator’s eyesight, they had no way of seeing anything one zhang out clearly. The fog turned more and more dense and more and more heavy, while a kind of gloomy air like the cold of dead water spread out.

Elder Qin and Jiang Chi whose cultivations were the highest held up their sword and blade. They did not say anything, but the other people already felt that matters turned abnormal from their reactions. In Bai Li’s sleeves, a pair of bone swords silently slid out, and the Bank’s disciples draped in cloaks each gripped their own weapons.

The current slowly flowed around everyone, like a constantly shrinking whirlpool.

In the moment the atmosphere was taut to the greatest point, they only heard a low shout, and Elder Qin and Jiang Chi pretty much dodged in a crisscross and rushed out at the same time.

The originally slow and viscous strange current of air sudden broke apart at that low shout, and everyone felt like they heard a sound of an extremely tight thread snapping apart, then, the surrounding circumstances completely changed in an instant—— the winds that were restricted and confined into slowing down by the strange power suddenly turned ruthless and fierce.

The mad winds roared, tearing open that viscous misty white fog.

The instant the strange air was broken, ten or so black figures suddenly came out, pouncing towards everyone in the middle being protected by Elder Qin and Elder Jiang.

These black figures clearly already reached close.

After the Chaining Wind and Fog took shape, their group of people’s movements seemed to have already been exposed in the enemy’s eyes, and when they were quickly heading towards the city gates, the other party’s killers were also slowly and silently circling in. If not for Elder Qin discovering something suspicious, the encirclement would be completely exposed at the time it shrunk to its smallest.

The so-called killers, were these kind of people who would conceal their figures, then subsequently pull out lethal strikes.

But Elder Qin discovered it.

These killers concealed in the dark, after this district’s Chaining Wind and Fog was broken with Elder Qin’s shout, had their figures exposed. At the instant they were exposed, these killers used their lifetime’s most fastest speed to draw a lethal strike.

The atmosphere was cut up in an instant by the sword.

Bai Li then felt the wind from all around.

It was not the night winds washing by the streets, nor the breeze that blew past fields and mountains- that was wind brought up when an iron tool, a blade, a sword, all sorts of unimaginable weapons, lashed out to cut space in a unimaginably short period of time.

For the first time, she saw the true battle spreading out in the darkness.

White fog that had not completely dispersed, darkness, and the deep-gold flowing down from the sky mixed together, and ghost-like figures pounced and flew in from all around, like emissaries of death from the underworld lashing towards them. In that instant, Bai Li felt herself shivering—— this was an actual battle that belonged in the darkness.

A barren, [battle of] life and death.

It was not like the duels between those of the same sect. This was not an exchange between one person and another, it was more like the grapple between beast and beast.

However, what was more frightening than those masked ghost-like killers were Elder Qin and Elder Jiang with their one blade and sword. They let out low growls, and jumped around in the darkness. Bai Li couldn’t see anything clearly, she certainly was still just a disciple, and her cultivation could not compare with the elders.

She could only hear the violence and wrath in the elders’ low shouts.

Flash of a blade, flash of a sword.

Other than the people who brandished their blades and swords, no one knew just how many flashes of light from the blade and sword flew by the darkness in that instant. The frosty colours that was like snow from the strikes of the blade and sword disturbed the world into broken pieces. In that instant the killers entered the offensive, Elder Qin and Elder Jiang also moved.

They were only two people, but the blade and sword they wielded instead formed an airtight net.

Blood splattered, and corpses fell.

Everything burst out in an instant, and also ended in an instant.

The elders of Jiu Xuan Sect and the Nine Provinces Private Bank revealed their swift and strong side.

Elder Qin and Elder Jiang passed by each other and changed positions.

Bai Li lowered her hand, and saw the corpses fallen over the entire space around their party.

Bai Li could not help but lightly suck in a breath of cold air, in surprise of Elder Qin and Elder Jiang’s power. However, Elder Qin and Elder Jiang still maintained a vigilant stance, their faces stern, and did not relax from killing all the surprise attackers.

After that instant of chaos, the surrounding environment returned to its original state, and the night of Ge City’s streets was returned to being imprinted with the sky’s deep-gold radiance. A person stood at a place not far from them, with one hand holding a blade, one hand holding a lantern.

When those masked killers borrowed the “Chaining Wind and Fog” to get close to Elder Qin’s group, that person stood at a place not far away without moving, and only stood there.

Before the Chaining Wind and Fog was not broken, Bai Li and them could not see him.

But after it was broken, his figure appeared.

When the shocking exchange played out in the dark just now, that person only held a blade with one hand, and held a lantern with the other, just like a passerby standing outside the battlefield, calmly observing. The lantern in his hands let out a hazy light, all dim and yellow, making the place he was standing at looking a bit unrealistic.

Just like a mottled old painting, and he, was the wanderer holding the blade inside the old painting.

“Would Jin Tang’s secret guards also be like martial artists, waiting for a one-to-one duel?”
Elder Qin rotated the edge of the blade, and coldly spoke up.

He slightly narrowed his eyes, and felt like the Jin Tang secret guard standing in front had an unspeakable familiarity to them.

The person holding the lantern was Ji Wu.

He carried a blade held in a blue-coloured sheath, and calmly stood in the middle of the street. After the subordinates he brought all died, Ji Wu alone blocked the front of this group led by two extremely terrifying swordsmen of the immortal sects.

Once “Chaining Winds and Fog” was broken, this area returned to normal, and rain pattered down from the sky.

But the flow of water actually already gathered on the stone surface of the streets.

“No, I am only a guard.”
Ji Wu said. He observed those Grey Plume guards fallen onto the ground, and a few slivers of woe were revealed inside his eyes.

Should it be said that it was expected of the strongest power on the land of the twelve dynasties? Even at this time of a trapped beast, the remaining might was still as fierce as this.

Ji Wu raised his hand, and the lifted lantern drifted up. The dim-yellow light leaked out, then enveloped the entire empty street in an instant, and the lantern’s glow and the deep-gold falling from the sky merged into one in the surroundings.

The street then turned incomparably dazzling within this moment.

The instant the lantern was thrown up, Ji Wu’s blade was drawn out.

That was an extremely odd blade- it was cast from bronze, and the body was engraved with many strange symbols. From the looks of it, it was primitive and heavy, carrying an obscure and mysterious aura.

When Elder Qin saw the symbols on the blade’s body, his face slightly changed.

Before Elder Qin and the others could react, Ji Wu gripped the edge of the blade with his left hand and then swiped down, and blood poured out from his palm. That blade seemed like it had its own intelligence, and started greedily sucking the warm blood.

In an instant, the blood seeped into the body’s symbols.

“Detain!”
Ji Wu’s face quickly turned pale-white, and the hand holding the blade slightly shook, but he still tightly held it, and angrily shouted aloud.

The sound was just like lightning erupting on the flat lands.

The symbols on the bronze old blade lit up instantaneously, and at the same time, the bronze talismans that Elder Qin and the others obtained from the patrolling immortal cultivators suddenly flew out from everyone, echoing the dazzling light erupting from the ancient blade’s symbols suspended in midair.

Ten dazzling lines of light intertwined, and formed into a cage in midair, about to entrap Elder Qin and the rest in it.

—— Those bronze talismans and that bronze ancient blade in Ji Wu’s hands seemed to have some vague and peculiar connection with each other.

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