White fog filled the air, and the high and low buildings’ eaves in the city floated within the white fog, like a sea market’s morning buildings. The sea of clouds in the sky descended at this time of night, and in the sea of clouds, the tall gold tower erected from the earth, like an ancient sword directly piercing the canopy of Heaven, where the bright light from the sword’s body made the pitch-black sky curtain disturbed with a fluctuating sunken gold colour.
At the very peak of the tall tower, the grey-robed man sat cross-legged with their eyes closed.
That bright-red long blade was pierced in the very center of the Qing Ming tower in front of him, with bronze talismans with countless intricate symbol suspended midair in front of the man.
Countless gold threads of light swam and circled around the Qing Ming tower. If one said that the current Ge City turned into a net, then the grey-robed man was the predator who sat at the very middle of that net.
When Ji Wu tossed out the lantern and brandished the bronze blade, the grey-robed man opened his eyes, and reached out, then gripped the edge of the bright-red blade.
Blood slowly slid down along the edge, oozing down along the elegant-lined yet ice-cold body, and in the end, sunk into the flickering tall gold tower’s central point.
He lowly shouted.
A shapeless wave of tremor sudden erupted out with the bright-red long blade and the bronze-boned talisman as the epicentre, like an earthquake and also like a tsunami, diffusing out from the Qing Ming tower. In that instant, the entire Qing Ming tower seemed to be shaking, as though there was an archaic, sky-reaching door being opened in the void.
Mad winds violently swept up in the skies of Ge City, those deep-gold-coloured streams of light originally like the ripples on the surface then broke out, and in a moment of a few breaths, the space above the sky seemed to have countless gold-coloured scaly dragons dancing in a frenzy, tearing the entire pitch-black of the sky thoroughly apart.
Inside Ge City, everybody’s ears seemed to be echoing with a continuously rumbling and buzzing noise that made people stifled and alarmed.
Within the hazy white fog, Ge City’s commoners were in great fear, shrinking into each of their own homes, not daring to come out- as the Nine Provinces Private Bank and Jiu Xuan Sect’s people were engaged in an unavoidable battle with Ji Wu on the streets, the quiet were in fear, the moving roared, and the city became the background for the chaotic battlefield.
And yet, one place maintained a bronze and black iron-like silence and solemn.
Above Ge City’s walls spread like a lying dragon, the soldiers originally stationed outside the city that were dressed in heavy armour had been moved in at some time ago. Their hands either held long spears, or held blades, and the helmets they wore emitted a faint cold light within the half-bright half-dimness. This odd-aired army were silently moved above the walls, and orderly stood there.
In the cold winds, each soldier’s face was pretty much the same.
It was not that their facial features were the same.
But that with a single look, it would make people feel like they were pretty much the exact same.
Ice-cold, silent, like a blade, like a sword.
At this time, this army of close to ten thousand, was like everyone merged into one body, in which the single army was like a lurking long dragon wanting to rise. The entire army’s aura solidified and fused in one place at this moment, giving people a feeling that this was not many independent bodies, but rather, these soldiers were just like they turned…… turned into thoughtless components of a war machine.
The gold light swam and madly danced in the skies, and by the end, dived down, and submerged into this army quietly standing on the top of the city walls.
In that instant, between the heavens and the earth, to the unseen eye, a distinct dragon’s roar reverberated from the past to the present.
The entire city’s atmosphere violently trembled at this instant.
The army stationed at the city walls had completely transformed——
An ancient giant dragon’s apparition hovered above the city walls, and its figure turned solid bit by bit from the illusion.
Inside the entire city, all the animals paralyzed to the floor in that moment, shivering, unable to move.
“The Pan dragon has already descended.”
Ji Wu half-knelt to the floor, while half of the bronze ancient sword was thrust into the broken ground.
He looked to be extremely dishevelled, while that lantern tossed up by him tumbled to a place not far from him —— after tumbling down, that lantern’s true face was then revealed. That was not an ordinary lantern- with a frame made from cold-white dragon bones, and a candle made from imperishable oil of mermaids was placed within the lantern, but at this time, the candle had already burned halfway through. The lantern covering made from the skin of a white Kun was cut in two by a sword, and the mermaid candle inside was also cut into two parts. The half-extinguished small half of the mermaid candle overturned and fell to one side.
As Ji Wu himself said, he certainly was not a martial artist that fought head-on.
He was a secret guard who resorted to every means possible.
The lantern held in his hands was not some ordinary lantern. The light emitting from the mermaid candle that had been refined through a secret method seeped over the white Kun skin, creating a masking effect that even the highly-cultivated Elder Qin and Elder Jiang could be deceived with.
When he sacrificed the ancient lantern, the instant the glows activated by the secret method enveloped the entire street, the street was covered with a gigantic, realistic-seeming yet dream-like illusory spell formation.
Ji Wu was very clear, he could not possibly be an opponent of the most outstanding elders of Jiu Xuan Sect and the Nine Provinces Private Bank, and so from the very start, he had no plans of taking blows head on. The ancient lantern’s illusory formation provided the most powerful cover for a killer such as Ji Wu, and those bronze talismans taken by Elder Qin and the others were controlled by the bronze sword in Ji Wu’s hands. With the price of sacrificing those immortal cultivators who chose the dynasty, send the bronze talismans into Elder Qin and the others’ hands, only to activate them at the most crucial time, and form a powerful imprisoning cage.
However, Elder Qin’s group’s strength and reactions were faster than predicted.
Just when Ji Wu took out the bronze ancient sword, Elder Qin and Elder Jiang shouted angrily at the same time, and their blade and sword instantly struck out, and strikes of light that could be called stunning flew through the air, each forcefully cutting apart a bronze talisman before the cage formed.
The imprisoning barrier that lacked two bronze talismans was in a state of instability, it had a weak point.
However, at this time, the person over at the Qing Ming tower also moved.
Within Ge City, that pressure aimed at immortal cultivators quickly increased with terrifying speed, and the pressure that Elder QIn and Elder Jiang endured suddenly surged, while their strength met with a stronger and stronger weakening.
It was thanks to these, that Ji Wu could then delay the Nine Provinces Private Bank and Jiu Xuan Sect’s group here.
—— The Pan dragon had already descended.
The breathing on the completely-bloodstained Ji Wu had already withered to an extreme, and he was kneeling to the ground, propped on the blade a few times wanting to forcefully stand up, but he failed.
Elder Qin waved the blade, and completely broke the imprisoning barrier formed from the bronze talismans, The instant the barrier was broken, Ji Wu who was half-kneeling on the ground spurt out a big mouthful of blood, and the ancient sword in his hands shattered apart. Ji Wu’s figure swayed, then directly fell to the ground—— the instant the ancient sword broke, his life’s candle seemed to also be extinguished along with it.
This handsome Jin Tang imperial clan member barely lifted their head up, and the bloodstained face revealed a pale-white smile.
“…… are too late.”
His voice was so weak it was like a light breeze.
Along with his final breath-like words, Ge City’s air intensely shook instantly, and white misty fog swept up, then all withdrew like tidal waters in this intense earthquake. A dragon’s cry that was like it crossed from the primitive times resounded in everyone’s ears, carrying a majesty that seemed like it rose from the deepest parts of the soul.
As the white fog faded, everyone’s vision recovered, and then saw- on top of the northwest walls they were about to rush to, the figure of an ancient dragon in the air slowly appeared, and a terrifying might that came from the primitive times was spreading out from that ancient dragon apparition.
When Elder Chen heard this dragon cry, he could not help but let out profanity. He was holding up a sword, and had a bit of a breathless appearance.
Ji Wu’s goal was to delay their pace, thus, Ji Wu did not exchange blows with them head-on, but borrowed the restriction of the barrier on the people from the immortal sects, and moved as he let out attacks. Though Elder Qin and Elder Jiang blocked most of the attacks, Elder Chen had to also try and protect the comparatively low-cultivated Bank’s disciples.
Ji Wu could no longer hear Elder Chen’s curses.
Ji Wu who was clearly born of an imperial clan, who, on logic, should have a life of no worry over clothes or food, and live in comfort, who instead wore a mask and hid in the dark, stopped breathing. In this lifetime, he either personally killed many people, or treated many people as pawns and indirectly killed them. But in the end, he took himself as a pawn as well.
Jin Tang’s Ji clan’s blood, was like a curse.
The people flowing with Ji clan’s blood, were always downright, wolf-like lunatics.
A sound rushing up the skies resounded, Elder Qin and the group rushed towards the walls appearing with the ancient giant dragon at full speed.
The projection of the ancient dragon occupying the space above the walls was solidifying with a speed apparent to the naked eye. Once the figure of the ancient dragon completely solidified, and that pair of closed eyes opened, then everything would end. Not one of them would be able to rush out of this death spell of a city under the suppression of the Qing Ming tower.
As the city gates got in view, above the city, the ten thousand-strong army donned in armour that was like one body appeared in their sights. Elder Qin’s hand that was stained with blood gripped the blade hilt, and was about cut open the city gates with one strike.
With Elder Qin’s cultivation, one could see with a single glance- those soldiers actually lost their own senses at this time. They were originally people who transformed with the ancient emperor’s power. Someone used these soldiers that held the ancient emperors’ aura to link with the Qing Ming tower’s strength, and summoned a Pan dragon’s projection that came from the very beginning of the primitive era. The closer one was to the city walls, the closer they were to the dragon’s projection, and the pressure everyone faced turned bigger.
Even for Elder Qin and Elder Jiang, their foreheads were already filled with cold sweat at this time.
Bai Li and those Bank disciples whose strength was even lower only felt like the bones over their entire body were under a heavy load right now, letting out a teeth-aching sound, with their air and blood boiling in their chests. This kind of feeling made people subconsciously want to fall to the ground and grovel.
But anyone knew that they could not stop, they could not fall.
They must rush forward.
Just when everyone was very close to the city gates and the long blade in Elder Qin’s hands struck out, a bright-red flash of the blade that was like a crescent moon flew over several hundred miles from the Qing Ming tower.
The bright-red light of the blade was silent, and in an instant, reached everyone’s backs. When the strike of light came, in the airspace of the city walls, that ancient dragon figure suspending had already approached being solid, then, as though feeling Elder Qin’s killing intent, the giant dragon that had not yet completely solidified suddenly turned, and its pair of eyes abruptly opened.
When the giant dragon’s pair of eyes opened, everyone enveloped in its sight felt like they were heavily hit by a giant hammer from the front. The disciples whose cultivation were comparatively low could no longer stand it, a mouthful of blood spurt out every one of them, and their figures, with one look, was about to fall down from midair. At this time, Elder Jiang let out a roar, then, with both hands gripping the hilt, leapt up high, and used a heavy force rarely seen in sword techniques, cutting down with a strike from midair towards the dragon’s head.
The body of Elder Jiang’s sword was long and slender, and definitely could not be called heavy, but in this moment, this sword of his instead cut down with a heavy sword’s might.
Within the fierce roar, the expression on Elder Jiang who always had a dead-pan face seemed like a lion who had been forced into a corner, carrying a swift and fierce resolution of risking everything in one go.
The flash of the sword struck down like cutting through mountains and rivers, and Elder Jiang who leapt into midair used the power of one to face that ancient giant dragon’s might head-on. All the pressure on the disciples’ bodies was then suddenly alleviated.
And then at this time, that bright-red flash of the blade to their backs already flew to their front. There was a distance of several hundred miles between the city gates and the Qing Ming tower, but that strike of light seemed like it directly ignored the gap of space, and instantly reached everyone’s backs. The bright-red strike did not have a heaven or earth-shaking force, yet, when it flew by, everybody genuinely felt the shadows of death.
But at this time, Elder Jiang was leaping in the air to resist the imposing pressure of the dragon’s head, while Elder Qin let out a strike towards the city walls and gates to break the formation.
Not one of them could make it to turn back to fight off this blood moon-like flash of the blade.
Bai Li who was at the back of the group to control the situation bit down on her teeth, the pair of swords dyed with a white colour, then she twisted around, and was about to face that moon blood-coloured strike of light coming down.
One hand grabbed Bai Li’s shoulders, and tossed her backwards.
The chubby, always narrow-eyed, shrewd-faced Elder Chen’s white and chubby face swelled red, and their facial features pretty much twisted together.
He roared, and tossed Bai Li back to the end of the group.
At this moment, in everyone’s eyes, the always cowardly and sly Elder Chen took a deep breath in, the muscles on his body bulged up one by one, and his figure turned robust like the sun-chasing Kua Fu back then in that instant. He roared, like he completely transformed into another person—— no longer like a shrewd and cunning merchant, like a fearless brave warrior vowing to die.
The low and deep howl seemed like it bore the echos of large ancient bells, and the Elder Chen who always hid in the middle of the group leapt up high, opening up both arms and facing the blood-coloured strike of light coming down.
When he spread his arms open, a molten gold-like red fire burned up from his body, like a highly rising undying bird’s wings. This area pretty much ignited from the scorching fire on his body. He roared, the muscles on his face shook, neither hiding nor escaping, rushing towards the sky-cutting blood-coloured light.
—— To his back, were the stunned Private Bank disciples, the Bai Li who was tossed back by him, and also Elder Qin and Elder Jiang who were similarly risking their lives to brandish their blades.
 狭路相逢- the expression reads, to meet on a narrow path, an unavoidable encounter.
 卧龙- term for someone outstanding who lives in solitude.
The undying bird’s pair of wings opened up in the skies with a blaze, and a clear golden crow’s cry broke through the sky’s overlapping golden ripples, while the ancient warrior-like Elder Chen roared as he opened up his arms.
Just like the child of the golden crow that embraced the sun in the legends, he rose up in the air, and held that crescent-moon-like blood-red strike.
To the back were the Private Bank’s disciples’ cries, by the ears was the sound of raging fire ablaze. The sound of flames was that clear—— not only the sounds of flames, but the entire world’s sounds were that distinct.
The sound from the strike of light tearing the space over a distance of several hundreds of miles, the sound of air warping, the sound of sniffles within the disciples’ cries, the sound of Dead-face roaring as he faced the ancient dragon’s apparition…… anything and everything was that distinct, so distinct it was like the world had slowed down.
The light of the blade coming in carried a cold intent to kill, the keen aura seemed like it was able to directly cut up the soul, while a familiar yet also strange power surged and boiled in the blood and muscles. Elder Chen lifted his head up, soundlessly laughed, then grinned.
Within the sect, he always did not have much prestige, he was a cowardly and also weak elder, and had a neither high nor low cultivation.
However, no matter how it was said, he was an elder too!
Those youths filled with spirit and vigour called him “Elder Chen” with their voices carrying smiles. They would always merrily and lively pass by him, and always call out to him, “Elder, you want to come drink with us”, “We’ll pay”…… Those disciples who were that young.
People who were elders, even if they were anything more, could not be so good-for-nothing that they would hide behind the disciples, and watch the young children roar as they rushed to the battlefield.
Was an elder who was being protected by disciples, worthy of being called “Elder”?
In truth, very few people knew, but in the very beginning…… during the generation of youth, the one who was called a genius was…… him!
Elder Chen hoarsely laughed, and he roared loudly, “The Nine Provinces Private Bank…… neither withers nor perishes!”
An ancient bell-like roar, carrying that much rage and pride, practically unlike a sound that a human could let out, crashed and struck down in the black night with a rumble, like the thunder within a summer night’s rainstorm, startling the entire city. Within the sound of the roar, the undying bird’s pair of wings lightly gathered together, like Elder Chen crossing his arms, completely embracing that strike of light in space.
The Nine Provinces Private Bank’s disciples cried out, and blankly looked at the sky.
The merry elder who they were that familiar with, who would normally unfittingly follow them to the tavern after a question of “Elder, you want to come drink together?”, was like a complete stranger at this time. That familiar figure in this instant was propping up the heavens and the earth, as mighty as a god.
A bloody colour and the whiteness of heat weaved together.
The sky to the back burst into a span of confusion, while Elder Chen who had never had any might or prestige forcefully held up against that bright-red strike. When that fleeting blade of light collided with the undying bird’s wings, it erupted with her hideous and terrifying true face—— the strike of light turned into tens of thousands of blood slivers, disturbing even the space into a shatter, if Elder Chen had not burst out with a strange power to withstand it in this instant, then all the disciples would have been crushed to powder under that strike of light.
Within the thunder-like roaring, Elder Jiang blocked the ancient dragon’s might—— with the price of the long sword in his hands pulverizing at every inch.
He too was also roaring. The webs of both hands were split and drenched with blood, the long sword he used for many years and viewed as his own life had been pulverized, and the broken sword burst out in all directions, scratching by his old face filled with anger, and blood came down from it.
Elder Qin’s black robes spread open in midair like crow feathers, and that grey and dusty long blade cut out an opening in the city gates along with the wall, and the soldiers above the wall, under the dragon’s might and the blade and sword’s auras, spurted blood and died right then.
“Run! Run! Run!”
It was clear that Bai Li was not familiar with the Nine Provinces Private Bank’s Elder Chen, but at this time and moment, she only felt like her mind was roused by some sharp object- that much grievance was coming in. Her pupils reflected with the image of the sky’s blood and gold colours intermingling, and the inside of her mind sharply went in pain.
She turned around, and slapped a Bank disciple who wanted to rush forward back.
The Bai Li who was always a bit timid was finally very similar to the eldest senior sister she had worshipped at this moment. Her face jumped with a terrifying fire of rage, her aura ruthless, and angrily shouted within the chaotic world.
Above the wall, the sword in Elder Jiang’s hands completely shattered, a sword cultivator’s life was his sword. For that many years, Jiang Chi used his soul to temper his longsword over and over again, but now, his sword shattered. The instant the sword thoroughly broke apart, he spurted out a mouthful of blood, and the figure that was soaring in midair then dejectedly fell down.
But that was already enough.
It was already enough.
Elder Qin had already cut out that path. The city walls appeared with an opening, and the ancient dragon apparition in the skies already had its might blocked off. Bai Li, that slightly timid Jiu Xuan Sect lady, already brought the Nine Provinces Private Bank’s disciples to rush out.
Outside of Ge City, when Jiu Xuan Sect’s founding elders saw the abnormality within the city, they already knew that matters had taken a turn. When the Qing Ming tower was transforming, Jiu Xuan Sect’s founding elders left outside the city as reinforcements started quickly preparing the formation. If it was at any normal time, preparing a transportation formation did not need this big of a front.
However, Ge City had been influenced by the transformed Qing Ming tower, and the Yin and Yang and the five elements of the world had already completely changed.
The space had already changed, only people with cultivation like a Jiu Xuan Sect’s founding elder using a secret technique would be able to tear open a passageway capable of precisely transporting one to Jiu Xuan Sect from here.
The ancient dragon illusion in the skies slowly swam, seeming to want to pursue them, but also seemed to be under some limitation.
Elder Qin and the group rushed inside the formation.
Elder Jiang Chi staggered as he fell to the ground. He actually wanted to stand up, but could no longer stand properly. With the sway of the figure, he then half-knelt to the ground. The bloodied hands propped on the ground, and he barely lifted his head up. His face was filled with blood, while his vision was blurred by the blood, and could only barely see things roughly.
—— He saw Elder Qin rotate the blade and turn back, protecting those young children as they rushed out the city gates.
—— He saw the glow from the formation soar up to the sky outside Ge City, and the long-awaited Jiu Xuan Sect’s reinforcements activate the formation that tore the space.
In the skies to the back, the undying bird’s pair of wings were cut apart by a second soaring blade of light, and the bright-red radiance swallowed that ancient warrior-like figure, and within Ge City, the half-kneeling taciturn elderly person’s figure finally fell down.
The top floor of Ge City’s Qing Ming tower.
The grey-robed man’s right hand held the blade, while the left hand was kept in the sleeves.
The sounds of wind on the peak of the tower was remote and long-lasting, like blowing from another side of the world. The grey-robed man’s clothes were swept up, and he stood there all on his own, like a statue, yet also like a thin and weak silhouette.
He stood on top of this ninety-nine-storied tower, looking down from this place- everything in the city was that minute, like mole crickets and ants. In the highest place here, everything was within view.
Beneath this big and tall sky(qing ming), that young head of the secret guards from the Jin Tang imperial clan died in the darkness without anyone knowing, and the Ji family’s madness finally stopped along with the congealment of blood; that elder from the Nine Provinces Private Bank blocked the ancient giant dragon’s might, half-kneeling at a place with that short of a distance from the sky, and used all their strength to watch the sects’ disciples leave on the path paved from blood; that undying bird’s wings burned out in the skies, and the person who did all they could to block him had their soul entirely extinguished along with the undying fire extinguishing……
Beneath the big and tall sky, all of this was being put on.
The grey-robed man let out a long, long sigh, and a drop of blood dripped from the tip of the blade, dripping onto the floor along with the slight soft sound.
This was his name…… but it was also not considered a name.
At the time he decided to serve that frail young man who came in the rainy night, he discarded his original name, and from then on, was a nameless person. Bei He was only a code-name used to refer to himself.
But there were some things that could not really be that easily discarded.
He discarded his original name, and since separated himself from the Eighteen Clans’ glory, and made the preparations to point blades towards former comrades. But once this day truly came, and the descendants of the Eighteen Clans truly died at his hands, sorrow still slowly swelled up.
Bei He lowered his eyes.
After a long time, he bitterly laughed.
The youth from Jin Tang’s Ji clan died holding the lantern, the descendant of the Eighteen Clans was killed under his blade, and the unknown and unrecognized immortal cultivators and the silent soldiers had been turned into pawns…… it was at this time, that he then completely understood Bai Yi Qing’s words.
All of this was like a quietly-flowing long river of time- the men, the women, the elderly, the young, all used their entire strength in the river to struggle, yet in the end, they could only turn into sinking shadows beneath the water. And yet, no one was right, no one was wrong. Hating, loving, all could be understood.
What created all this, was all that should not have appeared, that should not soared above order, that transcendent power.
This world needed a true order.
A set of footsteps resounded, and a Jin Tang guard wearing a white-lined mask respectfully walked up.
That was Ji Wu’s vice commander.
—— That was the person who, at the time before that Jin Tang Ji clan youth moved, took his own death into consideration, and arranged to succeed his position.
They did not fail.
This time, the mission that Ge City received, was not to stop the Nine Provinces Private Bank’s people from leaving, but…… to not spare any cost to kill one of the Eighteen Clans, the descendent of the Chen clan.
They were successful.
The secret guard lowly opened his mouth.
“Everything has been prepared now.”
“Is that so……” Bei He lowly muttered to himself, his tone was a bit like a sigh, “Then let’s begin.”
He pierced the bright-red long blade into the very core area of the tower’s peak floor once again, while that bronze talisman Ji Wu brought suspended in the air above the core area, and was slowly rotating.
Once the secret guard received consent, they let out a trumpet bird.
 顶天立地- or rather, someone able to. Of indomitable spirit.
When Bai Li once again saw the mountain gates to Jiu Xuan Sect erected on top of the ninety thousand stepped Connecting Heaven Staircase, she lifted her head up, and took a long breath in.
—— The instant she saw those familiar gates, a strange feeling close to frailty slowly swept over her like a tide, making people pretty much want to drop a tear.
At many times, because it was overly familiar, because one lived within it, people would very easily forget what meaning something held to oneself. Before this, she lived in Jiu Xuan Sect, and inside, she knew, “this is my sect, my Jiu Xuan Sect”, she knew this inside. However, just like the wanderer outside would much more clearly recognize the meaning that “home” had to them, only at the time they witnessed the Bank’s destruction, and the Bank’s elders and disciples were forced into homeless, they would suddenly realize, just how important of a meaning “this is my sect” was to them.
This is her sect, the place her soul returned to.
Bai Li turned her head and saw the Bank disciples at the spacial transportation spell with their hoods off, revealing haggard faces, similarly vacantly standing at the end of the Connecting Heaven Staircase and looking up at the lofty gates.
They were dispirited- some people’s faces were filled with tears, some people’s faces did not have tears, but their eyes were blank.
One of them started crying out loud first. These Private Bank disciples who normally smiled and said those who had money could make even ghosts mill, with a stomach filled with evil and smiles knelt to the ground, and broke into tears.
Unfittingly, broke into tears.
They followed Elder Jiang and time and time again lived on from the pursuit of death, then followed Elder Chen, and time and time again concealed their identities, doing various things they disdained before. Having faced that many times of life and death since the fires of war started burning, not one of them ever complained, not one ever went weak. But today, [when] they stepped onto Jiu Xuan Sect’s territory, [when] they lived on from Qi Qin dynasty, [when] they were safe.
They instead broke into tears.
Like a child that lost everything, there was nothing they cared for anymore- they did not care for their own image anymore, and did not care for their own pride anymore.
The Elder Jiang who lead them out from the fire of blood eternally knelt in the darkness behind Ge City’s gates, the Elder Chen who was always merry and quarrelling with them had his soul die out in the undying bird’s flames, and the Nine Provinces Private Bank they were familiar with now remained with a stretch of shambled walls and broken tiles in Qin Qin’s lands……
The howl-like cries were torn by the mad winds on the peak of the long staircase, then torn and wound towards the vast mountain ranges all around. Within this careless crying sound, even the mountain ranges appeared mournful as well.
The few Jiu Xuan Sect founding elders who, in the circumstances where the Qing Ming tower changed, had forcefully torn open a space and brought this many people back to Jiu Xuan Sect over several tens of thousands of miles, also appeared weary. Elder Qin was even full of bloodstains, and his white hair all messed up. He held onto his blade, and his face was so stiff it was like a stone statue. No one pressed them, no one laughed, all the people quietly and sadly looked at the Bank’s disciples kneeling on the ground, wailing aloud.
—— The Nine Provinces Private Bank, neither withers nor perishes.
Bai Li’s mind hovered and echoed with the angry shout Elder Chen last soared up with, that thunder-like roar was like he used up all his soul to let it out.
Bai Li subconsciously gripped her pair of swords tight. The strength she used was that strong, so strong her arms were slightly shivering, and the veins on the back of her hand bulged out. Her Jiu Xuan Sect, the still safe and sound Jiu Xuan Sect…… if someone wanted to destroy it, then she’ll……
She’ll kill them!
Her vision gradually grew hazy. Inside Ge City, a majority of the final battle’s impact was taken on by the three elders, but when directly facing such an endless might, the pressure that the disciples received was not small either. Over the journey here, all the disciples were actually completely exhausted of their strength.
Fatigue came over her like tide waters, mixing together with the crying sounds by her ears. Bai Li looked up towards the gates, and stood there without moving.
Within the haziness, someone ran over, and pulled at her hand.
—— It was her Xuan Shuang Peak’s sisters.
Just like at a time long ago, when she used all her strength to climb up the final step of the Connecting Heaven Staircase, and was about to kneel down all exhausted, Senior Jun came over to pull her up.
Bai Li let the other person pull at her, and bring her inside the gates, as she lightly spoke.
She came back.
Jiu Xuan Sect, to her, was this kind of place! A place where one could say “I’m back”, where one could put down all their exhaustion, a place where one would use their life to protect.
“How many times have I said, this is not a place for you to come drink wine at.”
Yi He Ping carried a jar and walked over from the orderly rows and rows of stone tablets.
Elder Qin improperly and unfittingly sat on the ground. He was still wearing that bloodstained, and blade-scarred black long robe. That long blade that underwent special treatment to make it inconspicuous laid on the floor off to the side, and by his side was messily tossed with a floor of wine jars. He leaned against He Qing Chuan’s gravestone, while his side was Guan Zhi Yu’s gravestone.
When Yi He Ping walked over, Elder Qin did not even lift up his eyes, and still hung his head down as he swayed the wine jar in his hands.
When sitting here, Elder Qin would always have a kind of misconception, like Senior Sister and He Qing Chuan was still by his side, and they were still the disciples fighting on Jiu Xuan Sect’s main peak who found each other eyesores and provoked each other back then. With just He Qing Chuan and Elder Qin’s temper alone, in that time, their relationship definitely could not be called kind, and privately fighting was practically as routine as a meal. When Guan Zhi Yu saw that they fought enough, she would hit each person with the back of the blade, and then pick them up one by one, and pat the jar of wine saying, “Drink, drink”.
In the past, when Elder Qin drank to the point of being a dead drunk here, he would look at Guan Zhi Yu’s gravestone and feel like Senior was still by his side. Now when he leaned on that stubborn-boned He Qing Chuan’s gravestone, he also felt like that one-muscled He Qing Chuan bastard, was still here.
However, in the end, it was only a misconception.
A gravestone was still a gravestone. Those who died would no longer come back, and merrily fighting and drinking together, only existed in memories.
“I came to drink with them.” Elder Qin swayed the jar of wine, “Not like you drink anyways, if I don’t accompany them two, who would drink with them?”
“Jiang Chi and Chen Dan died.”
Yi He Ping did not mind Elder Qin’s lack of courtesy, and he placed the earthen jar down, and also sat down cross-legged.
Elder Qin took the earthen jar he brought, and opened it.
Yi He Ping said with his mouth, this was not a place for Elder Qin to drink. However, the person who brought wine over was also him. Elder Qin hated this side of his where his thoughts were of one thing, yet the words out of his mouth was that of another. Back then when they drank wine, Yi He Ping was also like this. His mouth said one should not drink in excess, but in truth, which alcohol felt the best, which place had a spiritual fountain that could brew good liquor, were things he knew very clearly.
Since when did Yi He Ping start not drinking wine?
Probably after Senior died.
Guan Zhi Yu stayed at the Mausoleum of Ten Million and no longer came back, then Yi He Ping became their eldest disciple brother. Thus, as though in a span of a single night, Yi He Ping changed- he no longer drank wine, no longer fought with them, and no longer occasionally laughed without a care.
Afterwards when Yi He Ping was the sect leader, every time Elder Qin saw him, he would want to punch him in the face, and punch away that placid smile that would hide anything.
Everyone was a peer, one of the same master and sect, was he that amazing when he was the senior? A look that bore many responsibilities, that hid many things from them…… who the fuck needed him to protect them?
Yi He Ping let him continue sneering, and calmly looked at Guan Zhi Yu’s gravestone without saying anything.
It wasn’t only Elder Qin who knew Jiang Chi, he too also knew them.
They were people of the same generation, but what use was that anyway? Yi He Ping watched the people he knew and were familiar with, die off one by one. Once the people who died were discharged from their own duties, the people who lived on still needed to continue bearing the mission. In truth, Yi He Ping also wanted to be like He Qing Chuan, and straightforwardly wield a blade, and straightforwardly die off like a man.
But he could not.
He was a person who was a senior.
And so, these words boiled in Yi He Ping’s heart, yet did not leave the mouth the entire time. He then asked about another matter, “Where is it?”
Elder Qin coldly humphed, then took out an ancient scroll made out of some animal leather from the ring, and tossed it to Yi He Ping.
After catching it, Yi He Ping opened the ancient scroll.
—— The surface of the ancient scroll was drawn with a map of the twelve dynasties, of which, Jin Tang dynasty’s area was marked with many small labels. Those labels mostly spread in the southern territory of Jin Tang dynasty, and from the location of the labels, it was obvious it was spread at the places the Qing Ming towers were at in Jin Tang dynasty.
Yi He Ping scanned through each and every Qing Ming tower that was marked, and his face gradually turned more and more serious.
“Are they planning on reusing old tricks?”
Yi He Ping lowly said.
“I also went through Cang Pu dynasty and Jin Tang dynasty’s borders. Cang Pu dynasty’s spiritual medicines went through Jin Tang before going to Qi Qin dynasty, when going against the Nine Provinces Private Bank, the poison that Qi Qin used was contained in these spiritual medicines.” Elder Qin coldly said, “What do you plan on doing now?”
“Let the branches’ disciples start withdrawing.”
Yi He Ping let out a long sigh, like he made a resolution.
“Leave a portion, maintain appearances on the surface, as for the others…… let them withdraw.”
“Then what are you planning with those people left behind?” Elder Qin’s eyebrows raised up, about to get enraged.
Yi He Ping calmly looked at him, and said, “I do not want my Jiu Xuan Sect’s disciples, to be like the Bank’s disciples.”
Elder Qin paused, and did not say anything, then, he took ten or so bronze talismans—— the bronze talismans that Qi Qin dynasty gave the immortal cultivators who sided with them—— and threw them to Yi He Ping.
After Elder Qin broke Ji Wu’s barrier, he also brought these bronze talismans back.
“This is what Qi Qin used.” Elder Qin slanted his eyes to look at Yi He Ping, “Even if you gave them another three hundred years, they should not be able to invent this kind of thing, even with the Eighteen Clans’ demons’ aid, they should not be able to manufacture them in big batches like now. Shouldn’t you explain some things by now?”
Yi He Ping caught the bronze talisman, and his forefinger skimmed by the engraved characters on the surface of the talisman.
 家常便饭- expression for common occurrences, or at face value, a simple meal.
“During the era of Chaos, these bronze talismans were called decrees(ling).”
Yi He Ping did not answer, but instead, a neither high nor low voice resounded. Elder Qin lifted his head up, and saw Bai Li Shu who was draped in long black robes passing by gravestone after gravestone, slowly walking over here.
When Elder Qin saw the ancient character embroidery formed from gold and silver thread on the black robes Bai Li Shu was wearing, he slightly turned absent-minded for a moment, then turned to look at Yi He Ping. Yi He Ping stood up, and made a bow towards Bai Li Shu with a calm face. Bai Li Shu lowered his eyes, with his expression obviously very calm.
Elder Qin looked at this pair of master and disciple, and suddenly sneered.
Yi He Ping took one look at him.
Elder Qin was the most unruly of the few among them, back then at Jiu Xuan Sect’s main peak, because of this point, he and He Qing Chuan fought the most frequent. Later on when he became the sect leader, Elder Qin never adhered to courtesy even more—— of course, Yi He Ping knew this was related with Guan Zhi Yu’s death. However, Elder Qin was certainly a person whose bones seeped with arrogance.
Back when he brought Bai Li Shu back, Elder Qin was the first person to oppose Bai Li Shu becoming Jiu Xuan Sect’s eldest disciple brother.
Just as Yi He Ping wanted to say something, Elder Qin reached out and propped against the floor, swaying as he stood up. He tidied his clothes, then respectfully made a bow towards Bai Li Shu, “Greetings to Sect Leader.”
Elder Qin certainly opposed letting Bai Li Shu be Jiu Xuan Sect’s eldest disciple brother—— the Bai Li Shu who was brought back by Yi He Ping was only a young boy at that time. While standing in the big hall, their expression was calm yet grieving. To put that heavy of a destiny on that child’s body, was a very shameful matter. What was it about a so-called “fate”, he did not want to bother over it altogether.
The destiny that they needed to face, should be carried by them, but to put hope, to put responsibility onto a child, what man were you?
However, just like how he could only look helplessly as He Qing Chuan walked into the Mausoleum, and then die together with Guan Zhi Yu, there was nothing he could change. The black robes symbolizing Jiu Xuan Sect’s sect leader was still draped on Bai Li Shu in the end. And when watching the young man pass by the gravestones, Elder Qin already understood.
—— What he saw, was not only the former Jiu Xuan Sect disciple, that silent and grieving disciple- but rather, was the Bai Li family head who, in the era of Chaos and the Ten Thousand Immortals, spear-headed various unimaginable matters.
He could be disrespectful to Yi he Ping, he could be not courteous enough to Jiu Xuan Sect’s other founding elders, but faced with the family head of the Bai Li clan from the Eighteen Clans, even he could only bend his body, adhering to the highest of etiquette.
It was not related to pride- this was the homage towards the hero who supported everything in the torrents of history.
Bai Li Shu neither hid nor avoided it, and silently accepted this bow of Elder Qin’s. He took a bronze talisman from Yi He Ping’s hands, softly touching the surface with his fingers, and the bronze talisman turned into powder in his hands, with a grey light rising up from the powder. Bai Li Shu’s slender and pale hand slightly gripped it, and enveloped that extremely faint light in his palms.
When Elder Qin saw that line of light, his face slightly changed.
The ash-coloured light was very thin, very faint, so weak it was like a swimming thread, but from this swimming thread-like glow, Elder Qin faintly perceived a sort of very high-level power. The power in the light itself was not strong, but its level was extremely high.
Immortal cultivators’ power originated from the the Eighteen Clans’ seizure of the ancient emperors’ power from the era of Chaos, evolving again from the Eighteen clans. Compared to the power held by the Eighteen Clans of Old, ordinary immortal cultivators’ power and “quality” was much lower. However, as a descendant of the Eighteen Clans, Elder Qin instead could feel, this ashy faint light, solely on the level of its quality, was even higher than the one that the Eighteen Clans held.
That guess that originally existed inside Elder Qin started taking shape.
Just like a giant shadow that was being hidden, was slowly appearing.
Bai Li Shu observed the fleeting ash-grey light in his hands, and slightly gripped it, and the grey light silently dispelled in his hands.
The ancient emperors of the era of Chaos were definitely terrifying and scary to a point that the people of today could not imagine. That, was a paramount existence. When the ancient emperors had not yet fallen, the ones who dominated the world were these god-like existences. The attacks and confrontations between ancient emperors, influenced the entire lands’ people.
People could only prostrate with lingering breath beneath those thrones, living by like mole crickets and ants.
One could only choose submission, but submission did not necessarily mean they could live on safely and soundly.
The [relationship] between ancient emperors who held power and authority was not that peaceful, and during the era of Chaos where the ancient emperors’ powers were most prosperous, and the opposition had not formed into eighteen clans, the ancient emperors sent expeditions to each other- the clashing between them, in an instant, could extinguish the living organisms within several thousands of miles. And the people who surrendered to the ancient emperors, would typically become the first victims to die under the ancient emperors’ exchanges.
What decided the outcome of the fighting between ancient emperors, in the end, were the battles they personally carried out.
However, the airspace, the lands, were unable to take too many battles levelling those of ancient emperors. To avoid their own vassal territory getting completely destroyed in battle after battle, before the ancient emperors threw themselves into battle, there would be a much longer and miserable battle spreading between the tribes that submitted to the ancient emperors.
At that time, the ancient emperors would bestow bronze talismans carrying their own wills to the people with potential among the subjects.
Those bronze talismans were then called “decrees”.
[That was] because it contained a sliver of the ancient emperors’ will- that was the permission that allowed mortals to obtain a portion of power belonging to ancient emperors. Compared to the power that the emperors held themselves, the power obtained through a “decree” was actually like comparing a drop of water to the vast seas. However, to mortals, this was an extremely strong, extraordinary power.
This was how the ancient emperors built an army belonging to themselves among the mortals.
In Khlajöwwma’s deserts, that army of Zangmu that fought for Namu—— also the White Emperor—— was actually this kind of army. The armies that played the role of pawns in the ancient emperors’ battle, were also responsible for suppressing the people who also belonged to the rank of mole crickets [as the armies once were].
The existences similar to the army of Zangmu deepened the control the ancient emperors had on the dominated people, however, it was precisely this point, that the rebellion finally received the break of day.
The “decree” that ancient emperors bestowed not only conferred power to those who submitted to them, it also gave hope to the people who tried to oppose them.
The resistance studied the “decree”, and at last, analyzed the rules of the “decree” within the bronze talisman, and grasped the way to seizing the ancient emperors’ power, and the precursor to the Eighteen Clans of Old was thus born.
With the study into the “decree” and the realization of the rules, the resistance made contact with the ultimate source of the ancient emperors’ power for the first time- they finally slowly turned strong, and through many people’s loss of control, through countless failures, the Eighteen Clans of Old finally took shape. After discarding the original surnames, the people crowned with the eighteen surnames were on the run on the vast lands, and since then, to overturn the new scorching sun, became reckless and did not care for anything.
“Decree…… Ancient emperors……”
Elder Qin’s face was extremely unsightly. He looked at the calm-faced Yi He Ping, and then looked Bai Li Shu draped in black robes.
Though the power inside the bronze talisman was extremely faint, it certainly carried the aura of an ancient emperor. A “decree’s” presence was different to others- this was an ancient emperor’s will, this was not something that could be created using the burial grounds of an ancient emperor, even the Eighteen Clans did not have this power.
Yi He Ping lowly said.
“We suspect…… there is an existence currently trying…… to revive.”
Winds blew by, in the secret cemetery behind Jiu Xuan Sect’s main peak, each and every name on the gravestones were vivid yet pale-white.
Bai Li Shu took that marked map of the twelve dynasties from Yi He Ping’s hands, and his gaze passed through the Qing Ming towers that were marked.
“Summon the other immortal sects.”
Bai Li Shu lifted up his eyes. His gaze was very deep, like a boundless, depth-less vast ocean, where all the emotions were drowned beneath the surface of the sea.
“War is starting.”
In the final line, their tone was still like usual, calm.
However, it also carried a dignity that Elder Qin and Yi He Ping had never seen before, that could not be opposed.
In an instant, the air and wind turned harsh- there was no swift killing intent, only a calm declaration, however, within that calm, the era of Chaos, of Ten Thousand Immortals…… that air of war spanning for several tens of thousands of years whistled by, making its return.
At this instant, Yi He Ping and Elder Qin understood.
Standing in front of them, was certainly no longer Jiu Xuan Sect’s disciple, or that quiet yet solitary child, but the Bai Li family head who lead the Eighteen Clans in the ancient eras, who sent emperor after emperor into their graves.
This was originally something they hoped to see- in this kind of situation, this originally should make people happy.
And yet, Yi He Ping only felt sorrow.
He once again recalled that young boy sitting at the tall platform.
After walking far off, Yi He Ping could not help but turn his head back to see Bai Li Shu standing within the cemetery all alone. He saw that young man draped in black long robes slowly walking towards Shen Ye’s grave, lowering his head to look at the inscribed letters on the gravestone. On the bottom hem of his long robes, gold and silver threads intermingled, embroidering ancient characters on it.
Elder Qin lowly scolded by his side. Elder Qin’s face was taut, and the corners of his lips stretched out a cold angle. Elder Qin carried his blade, and though the blood on his clothes were already dry, within the winds, it still carried a bloody smell.
Yi He Ping looked back, yet, his gaze seemed to fall at a very far place.
When he heard Elder Qin’s words, the corners of his lips twitched, and bitterly laughed for a bit.
“That’s right, I am a scum.”
He lowly said.
Clearly, it was he who brought that lamenting young boy back, and said he would be his master, and said he would protect him. But in the very end, he could only personally push his own disciple to walk up that battlefield where one was unable to turn their head back.
If this kind of person was not a scum, what were they?
“I’m not talking about you.” Elder Qin’s left hand was still holding a jar of wine, and he lifted his head up and poured in, “You may also be a fucking scum, but this old man is scolding himself.”
“I can’t fucking be considered to be a man at all.”
Elder Qin tossed the jar of wine jar, growled, then went off with big steps.
 曙光- dawn, also refers to hope.
 卷土重来- to come back stronger than ever.
Bai Li Shu quietly stood before Shen Ye’s grave.
He read over the name on the grave, and when wind blew by his sleeves, Bai Li Shu felt a sliver of coldness on his fingertips.
Bai Li Shu actually wanted to say something, but also did not know what he could say.
In the era of Chaos, he was the Eighteen Clans’ leader, and the Bai Li clan’s family head. As someone who was a leader, one should be omnipotent, and needed to be like a flag, standing before everything, and so, even if he was hesitating to and fro inside, he could not express it. Afterwards, he wandered on the vast lands, recognizing no one, knowing nothing, wanting to saying something to other people, yet not knowing who to say it to.
Once time turned long, he no longer spoke.
Except, now that he was standing before Shen Ye’s grave, Bai Li Shu still wanted to say something.
Having travelled all the way from the era of Chaos up to now, his memories were that many, that long, like history itself. After returning from the era of Ten Thousand Immortals’ projected space, he finally remembered all of his past. Actually, when all his memories returned, the process was very painful. It was just like a person being drowned by a grandiose river, but in the river, you would be as insignificant as dirt.
With that many memories, Bai Li Shu remembered that snowy night all this time.
He had a period in time that was considered relaxing and happy now that he thought about it. That was a time not long after he just returned to the Bai Li clan, when the black-robed Shen Ye would always meditate in the room of silence. The Bai Li family that was left in the projected space was still under the influence of the curse, so their circumstances were not actually considered all that good.
The Bai Li clan at that time had many enemies.
After he returned to the Bai Li family, in that space, the people who were enemies with the clan of Bai Li spent all their efforts to send assassins to kill him. In the deep of the night, black-robed men would silently come out from the darkness, while the blade in their hands was like the sky’s cold moon.
Shen Ye said, the Head’s peace is not something you people can disturb.
He leaned against the wall by the window, and in that short span of time, felt like he was being protected.
People were actually a kind of frail being, but because of too much responsibility, they would be forced to mature, all to protect other people. Protecting them was a responsibility, Bai Li Shu did not feel it was painful, just that he would also feel fatigued,and in that very short period of time, he felt like he was not that tired anymore.
Because he knew there was a person hiding in the dark, silently protecting his peace.
Now, Bai Li Shu planned on doing something destined for him to do.
He recalled a time long ago, when he was still that dimensional plane’s Bai Li family head, he met with a very troublesome situation, where a few families had joined together. When the Bai Li family was on the verge of destruction, he hesitated in the room of silence for a long time, and could not make the decision—— he was actually not willing to sacrifice any one of the people of the family.
At that time, Shen Ye walked out from the darkness, half-knelt on the ground, and said:
Please do the thing you have decided on, there is no need to worry about the consequences.
“War is starting.”
After going silent for a long time, Bai Li Shu lowly opened his mouth. He lowered his head and looked at the ancient characters embroidered from gold threads on the black robe, as though he saw the symbols on clothes of the era of Chaos’ Eighteen Clans.
“It will end.”
Shen Ye carried that forged Golden Crow bow, borrowing that invisible bit of response, and stepped over from such a far distance from one space to another to find him, all because he was the person destined to end everything.
—— Although, in the very end, Shen Ye did not mention anything, and quietly died in front of him.
But Bai Li Shu knew why he searched for him.
He was fate.
He was the person destined to end everything.
Bai Li Shu hung his head down, and looked at his own palm.
A talisman engraved with countless ancient characters—— where those characters recorded the decrees that the ancient emperors personally wrote down, and the surroundings faintly hovered with the engravings of all the living beings.
An old imperial talisman.
The old imperial talisman he took from the Qiu Huang tower was held in his hands. In the space below the Qiu Huang tower, the space where the original old imperial talisman suspended in emerged with a warping feeling of a spider web falling down. At that time, on the surface of the imperial talisman held by Bai Li Shu, flowing light flashed by, and when carefully looking, it was like tens of thousands of scaly dragons being entangled, struggling and roaring around.
And yet, a layer of light, ice-blue light enveloped over the imperial talisman, and the ice-blue light faintly seemed to be seeping bit by bit into the old imperial talisman.
Light writhed within the imperial talisman, like some rampaging power was trying to rush out from within, and when Bai Li Shu slightly gripped with, the ice-blue light enveloped the entire old imperial talisman, and that flowing light returned to silence once again.
If Ye Qiu Sheng were here and saw this scene, he would understand how Bai Li Shu resolved the strange power in their bodies that sealed their primordial energy since coming out from the Qiu Huang tower when they were at Khlajöwwma. The thing that sealed their primordial energy, was the power belonging to an ancient emperor left in that space.
When Bai Li Shu held his hand, the old imperial talisman hidden in his hands touched Ye Qiu Sheng, and he drew away that power belonging to the ancient emperor within his body away.
—— The emperors cast talisman plates to command the world. What the talismans order, be it the heavens, the earth, human or beast, not one would disobey it.
The talisman in the legends that hid with the ancient emperors’ secrets to ascension was lightly held by Bai Li Shu in his hands.
He held this secret to the strongest power in the entire world, yet he did not look to be happy.
Bai Li Shu observed the old imperial talisman for a while, then put it away.
He actually came here to tell Shen Ye, there was no need to worry, he would end everything.
 危在旦夕- in imminent danger, or literally, danger may come at any day (or night)
Ye Qiu Sheng sat at the peak of a mountain, with one hand holding wine, and the other hand holding a blade.
He drank the wine, while the blade tapped on stone.
The Tu Qi dynasty where Tai Shang Sect was at was quite far from Jin Tang and Qi Qin dynasty, however, even if it was like this, in these days, Tai Shang Sect also sensed that they were located within the turbulence of the hidden current. The flames of war were about to rise with one look, yet Ye Qiu Sheng sat on top of Tai Shang Sect’s snowy peaks, looking far off towards the direction of the southern region, and thinking of the messy rhythm made by the blade tapping on the stone.
To the side, half-laid on the snowy earth and lazily counting snowflakes, the shitty old man knitted his eyebrows, and scolded at him once. Ye Qiu Sheng ignored him. The shitty old man laughed, “So arrogant now, have you forgotten how you looked standing outside the gates not daring to come in from before?”
Ye Qiu Sheng paused, and threw his blade along with the sheathe towards the shitty old man who was good in revealing others’ shortcomings.
“Whatever, since you called me over, hurry up and say whatever you have to say, after all, all the dirty work will up to me to do.”
Ye Qiu Sheng said in a sulky manner.
What the shitty old man was referring to, was when Ye Qiu Sheng received Tai Shang Sect’s news and rushed back from Tian Ji Valley, and just arrived at Tai Shang Sect.
Boundless flying snow.
No matter if other places were in spring or summer, in the snowy ranges of Tu Qi dynasty’s northern region, there would be volumes of fleeting snowflakes coming down from the skies the entire time. The mountain ranges that formed from ancient times stretched and fluctuated, like an ancient dragon lying over the lands, while the accumulated snow of tens of thousands of years covered over this ancient dragon’s body without pause.
From the looks of it, it was a bit like a burial.
Then, would he be buried here?
Ye Qiu Sheng reached out and caught a snowflake spinning down from the skies. All throughout the year, he would always be on the run outside Tai Shang Sect, busying about, and returned very few times. And then it was at this time, that Ye Qiu Sheng then suddenly discovered, turns out everything about Tai Shang Sect, was still that distinct for him.
He knew each mountain’s name, knew the years of history each place’s ancient ice held, he knew how many brothers and sisters who just started cultivating had tumbled over each of the ice steps, and knew how much strong liquor was in each tiny hiding place concealed from the elders…… everything was as distinct as this.
When reminiscing, it made people pretty much want to lightly laugh.
Ye Qiu Sheng stood outside the mountain gates to Tai Shang Sect.
After separating with Bai Li Shu, he rushed towards Tai Shang Sect without stopping in between. The Qing Ming towers were already stopped and disabled, so he flew on the blade the entire journey, and on the way, still habitually gathered quite a bit of information.
Only, he did not know if there was any use to gathering this information anymore.
In Tai Shang Sect’s eyes, was he Ye Qiu Sheng, or Ji Gui Yun?
Snow drifted down, and already gathered into a thick layer on his shoulders. Ye Qiu Sheng sucked in a long breath, and prepared to walk towards the mountain gates.
Just when he took one step, a few figures dressed in Tai Shang Sect’s robes walked out from the deepest parts of the boundless wind and snow from the gates, and Ye Qiu Sheng’s steps took pause.
He blankly saw that most familiar, always wasted and drunk elderly person at the very front of the few figures.
“We’ve waited for you brat for long enough, dilly-dallying around, are you a snail?”
The shitty old man holding wine walked at the very front, and tore at his throat and shouted over a long distance.
It was still that familiar tone, that familiar look.
Ye Qiu Sheng lowly called out.
“Hoh, after a trip, you finally understand etiquette now? You finally know to call me master now?” The shitty old man lifted his hand up, and tossed a jar of wine over, then stood still, and opened up the always half-drunk narrowed eyes, and seriously observed the young man standing in the snow, “Still good, looks like you haven’t lost any arms or broken any legs.”
Ye Qiu Sheng subconsciously caught the jar of wine the shitty old man tossed over.
“Let’s go, you brat’s pretentious enough, making us old bones get blown with cold wind for such a long time.”
The shitty old man reached out and patted Ye Qiu Sheng’s shoulders.
Ye Qiu Sheng held the wine, lifted his head to look, and saw the always stern-faced sect leader Yun Zi Mo carrying a sword standing behind the shitty old man, nodding his head towards him. Following along with the shitty old man, were Tai Shang Sect’s other elders.
Ye Qiu Sheng grew up in Tai Shang Sect since he was young- the shitty old man was a person who could leisurely drink wine in front of the sect leader, and sit at Tai Shang Sect’s big hall and tap on the roof tiles while singing loudly. Ye Qiu Sheng who followed the shitty old man while growing up would naturally not be raised with some rule-abiding character, and when he had not yet been confirmed to be the eldest disciple brother, he would always cause turmoil at each of the mountains in Tai Shang Sect.
Once he grew up, he didn’t have some rule-abiding character either, and every time Tai Shang Sect’s elders saw him, each and every one of them would blow at their beards and glare at him.
The elders who were always anxious to chase him far away from their own cave-dwellings, at this time, also stood to the back of the shitty old man.
“Only your extravagance is the largest.”
A familiar elder scolded in a crabbily.
Ye Qiu Sheng swayed the wine.
The winds whistled while pouring down from the far-north, while the tens of thousands of years of snow swept in the sky. Ye Qiu Sheng laughed loudly, and he lifted his head, then poured down Tai Shang Sect’s hard liquor.
That strong of a liquor that was like a red-heated knife- with one gulp down, the ball of fire rolled down to the chest from the throat.
Ye Qiu Sheng poured down too quick, and for the first time, choked from drinking wine.
He violently started coughing.
“What a good-for-nothing.”
The shitty old man lightly scolded.
“Let’s go, we’re just missing you.”
The silent and solemn Tai Shang Sect Sect Leader Yun Zi Mo opened his mouth, and he turned to walk towards the gates.
Flying snow spun as they passed from outer space, and the wriggling and stretching snowy ranges of Tu Qi dynasty laid on the earth like a dragon. Ye Qiu Sheng then felt that the coldness from sitting on the cliffs of Tian Ji Valley that seeped into his bones disappear bit by bit.
When following the elders into the gates, on the way, Ye Qiu Sheng did not encounter any people he recognized, and other than the outer-sect disciples, he did not meet any other people.
It was until he walked to Tai Shang Sect’s main peak —— the main peak of the entire Tu Qi dynasty’s northern ranges, that ancient tall mountain that was like a blade within the heavens and earth—— that Ye Qiu Sheng then knew where the entire Tai Shang Sect’s inner-sect disciples went off to.
They gathered on top of this snowy range’s main peak. On the stretching archaic mountains, the entire Tai Shang Sect’s inner-sect disciples, for the first time, orderly and neatly wore their robes, and solemnly stood within the flying snow. The center was emptied with a pathway, and the shitty old man. Yun Zi Mo, and other elders brought Ye Qiu Sheng through the crowd.
Ye Qiu Sheng saw his familiar peers standing on the snowy floor.
The brothers who once drank together, fought together, and got reprimanded by elders quietly stood there, with not much expression on their faces. Ye Qiu Sheng could feel, within the sudden changes in this period of time, Tai Shang Sect’s disciples he was familiar with already changed quite a bit—— they matured in this chaotic world’s raging waves.
Ye Qiu Sheng felt a bit relieved, but also a bit sad.
This was a scene that Ye Qiu Sheng had never had before in his memories, Ye Qiu Sheng did not know what it was exactly that the shitty old man and them wanted to do.
As Ye Qiu Sheng slightly shook the jar of wine in his hands, he did not feel at a loss.
The shitty old man would still toss him a jar of wine, the sect leader would tell him to go, and the always angry elders would still use that familiar tone to scold how his welcoming was “ most extravagant”.
Nothing had changed.
It was all that familiar.
Those gathered at Tai Shang Sect’s main peak were not only the inner-sect disciples- there were also the elders. Pretty much all the elders Ye Qiu Sheng recognized all sat at the tall platform of the main peak that was cast from the ancient ice. This was clearly a scene that only happened at a time when it was to announce a matter related to the entire sect’s future and survival.
Ye Qiu Sheng stroked his nose, and did not feel like his own messy matters were able to affect the entire sect’s survival.
He took a glance, and wanted to walk over to the disciples to stand.
The shitty old man glared at him, “Follow along.”
Obediently standing behind the shitty old man on top of the tall platform, Ye Qiu Sheng saw Sect Leader Yun Zi Mo slowly walking up.This was certainly a gathering regarding the entire sect’s fate- after experiencing this long of a purge and faint mutual combat between the dynasties, Tai Shang Sect finally revealed its courage as the Eight Immortal Sects in the raging mad winds.
No concealing, no ambiguity.
Yun Zi Mo straightforwardly narrated this period’s purge, and narrated all the things that happened with Qi Qin’s borders—— the destruction of the Nine Provinces Private Bank that was similarly part of the Eight Immortal Sects within the raging fire.
“Their goal is not only the Nine Provinces Private Bank.” Yu Zi Mo’s voice was just like himself, cold, carrying a resolution like a blade, “Qi Qin, South Chen, Jin Tang, as well as other dynasties, what they want to topple, is the entire Eight Immortal Sects—— including our Tai Shang Sect.”
“They would not be satisfied with one Qi Qin, and we…… would definitely not allow Tai Shang’s prestige to be destroyed in one single day.”
In the raging winds, Ye Qiu Sheng listened to the usually taciturn sect leader’s each sentence and word, then he looked down from the tall platform, and saw the desire of war rising up from Tai Shang’s disciples.
This was a declaration of war.
Ye Qiu Sheng understood.
After experiencing the very long, endless exchanges in the dark, the dynasty put out their letter of challenge with the destruction of the Nine Provinces Private Bank, and now, Tai Shang Sect was responding to this challenge—— glory is immortal, Tai Shang is eternal. From this day forth, the young disciples also joined into this cruel war, and these disciples who grew up in the northern country’s snow ranges, they would soon burn just like hard liquor.
“A pledge, to live and die with Tai Shang!”
Yun Zi Mo brandished the sword from his back, and lifted it up highly, while his voice enveloped over the entire peak like a loud rumble.
The tens of thousands of years of snow shook with his voice, but because the formation, it was also imprisoned in its original position. One saw the ice-blue ancient ice’s layer of light faintly flowing within the layer of snow, like an ancient, giant dragon waking up, reviving, about to let out its roar.
“A pledge, to live and die with Tai Shang!”
All the disciples brandished their blades and swords, and highly lifted it up too.
—— The ancient, giant dragon let out its roar.
The sound was torn far away by the wind, and transmitted over the entire span of pure white snow’s land, like a primitive roar stepping over tens of thousands of years to reappear on the vast lands.
“Ye Qiu Sheng!”
After all the people turned quiet, Yun Zi Mo sternly shouted.
Ye Qiu Sheng slightly froze, observed all around, and slowly walked up under everyone’s gazes.
“You all recognize who he is.”
Yun Zi Mo’s voice turned low and deep.
Ye Qiu Sheng stood before Yun Zi Mo, with his back facing the entire mountain’s disciples. He could not see their expression, but were able to hear their voices, “eldest disciple brother”, “Jin Tang’s prince”, “Ye Qiu Sheng”, “Ji Gui Yun”…… numerous and disorderly, like a tidal wave sweeping over the entire mountain.
“I know in this period of time, many people left us, they are not Tai Shang Sect’s disciples.” Yun Zi Mo calmly said, “On top of the side mountain, there are some of these peoples’ gravestones, in the previous period of time, you guys personally killed the people you once thought were our brothers and sisters.”
“They are traitors, Heaven’s Net, the pawns our enemies placed in Tai Shang Sect.”
“We will not leave mercy to anyone who wants to let Tai Shang be destroyed. However, we will also definitely not, due to this, not dare to leave our backs to our same sect.”
“If all of Tai Shang Sect’s disciples were unwilling, and did not believe each other again, this kind of Tai Shang Sect, living in suspicion and guard and hostility, is it still our Tai Shang Sect?”
The always serious sect leader’s voice that was stiff as a blade or sword turned gentle for the first time, but instead carried a different kind of deep and stately power.
All the people turned quiet.
What was a sect?
A sect, was family, was the brothers and sisters who fought together, was the strongest liquor drunken together in days of heavy snow, and then, brandishing weapons for a bit of quarrelling- yet when life and death was about to come down in a secret territory, to mutually call and catch the other person’s hands, definitely not letting go.
Were the people draped in similar robes one was able to hand their backs to with ease.
If these were gone, then this kind of Tai Shang, was it really their Tai Shang Sect?
Yun Zi Mo spread open a scroll, and started reciting in a low voice all the things that Ye Qiu Sheng did when running to and fro one by one in these many years,. He brandished his blade in the secret territory of sure-death, he travelled far to search for the lost secrets from the era of Chaos for Tai Shang Sect……
Ye Qiu Sheng silently listened, and his face no longer had that frivolous smile.
Strong winds came by boundlessly.
He suddenly wanted to laugh out loud, and cry out loud.
The young man who curled up in the karst cave stood up with a sway, and opened up his arms, the world had turned bright, with that much fire, that much light.
Tai Shang Sect had always remembered, always knew!
Tai Shang Sect had never forgotten its child who rushed around outside like a wanderer!
One by one, dangerous as can be.
Above the mountain peak, other than Yun Zi Mo’s voice, was the sound of wind, everyone else was quiet.
“So…… who is he?”
When Yun Zi Mo closed the scroll, his gaze sharply past by.
—— “A bastard who drinks wine for free all day and doesn’t pay up!”
Within a span of answers of “Eldest Brother”, all of a sudden, a bunch of people shouted loudly. Ye Qiu Sheng turned his head, and saw those fellows he was familiar with jump on top of a rock, and tear at their throats to yell.
—— “Don’t think because you’re the eldest disciple brother, you can eat and drink for free!”
Ye Qiu Sheng’s face froze, and could not help but lowly curse out.
Yun Zi Mo froze a bit too, and the always serious face could not help but reveal a hint of smile.
An outbreak of laughter instantly swept the entire mountain. The gloomy clouds that shrouded over these young disciples’ heads since Qi Qin dynasty’s incident dispersed unknowingly within the laughter.
Yun Zi Mo coughed, and suppressed the laughing.
After returning to peace and quiet, Yun Zi Mo deeply said, “Ye Qiu Sheng!”
Ye Qiu Sheng suppressed urge of wanting to get down the platform and taking out his blade, and give that bunch of brats love from the eldest disciple brother, and shouted in response.
“Will you vow to protect Tai Shang Sect?”
“Even if my soul perishes, I too will make Tai Shang eternal!”
“Good!” Yun Zi Mo sternly shouted, “I shall announce! The successor to Tai Shang Sect’s sect leader——”
“Ye Qiu Sheng!”
“Ye Qiu Sheng!!”
“Ye Qiu Sheng!”
The rumbling reverberation enveloped over Tai Shang Sect’s snowy mountain. Someone first started shouting Ye Qiu Sheng’s name, and quickly, everyone shouted this name together.
“We have experienced betrayal, experienced suspicion, and the gravestones on the side mountain are our scars.” Yun Zi Mo’s voice was low and deep, “However, we would definitely not lose our trust due to this—— because we are Tai Shang Sect! We are all Tai Shang Sect’s disciples! Our souls return to one body!”
“We fight for Tai Shang, bleed for Tai Shang, die for Tai Shang! But we will definitely not allow for Tai Shang to shatter to pieces because of the most despicable and shameful means!”
“Ye Qiu Sheng!”
Yun Zi Mo took the ancient blade that symbolized the next sect leader from an elder’s hands.
Not Ji Gui Yun, but Ye Qiu Sheng!
From here on, the world only had a Ye Qiu Sheng.
Ye Qiu Sheng grinned, and slowly walked forward.
“This disciple…… accepts!”
He knelt down, and his head heavily knocked against the floor.
 鸡飞狗跳- literally read as chickens fly and dogs leap. Chaos.
 吹胡子瞪眼- be angry.
 不远万里- the expression is, to feel that ten thousand miles is not far. To describe how the person was not put off by the far distance.
 刀口舔血- literally, licking blood off the edge of a blade. In reference to how dangerous something was, or its cruelty and ruthlessness.
“Jiu Xuan Sect’s leader is no longer Yi He Ping.”
The shitty old man tossed the blade along with its sheath back to Ye Qiu Sheng.
Ye Qiu Sheng caught the blade, and his hand froze, “If not Yi He Ping, then who?”
“That bunch of bastards from Jiu Xuan Sect haven’t publicly announced it yet, but you know the new sect leader.” The shitty old man patted his knees, and used a strange tone to sing a line, “Zhao Ge’s Bai Li, herd to Dong Ling. The former eldest disciple brother of Jiu Xuan Sect, Bai Li Shu. Those old bastards of Jiu Xuan Sect are much more bolder than I thought.”
Bai Li Shu.
When Ye Qiu Sheng heard this name, he unconsciously recalled that day they left Tian Ji Valley, when Bai Li Shu stood on the cliff, and calmly looked at him, then said, I do not know of a Ji Gui Yun, I only know a Ye Qiu Sheng.
“Shitty old man, did you say this so Sect Leader would learn a bit from Jiu Xuan Sect and abdicate early?” Ye Qiu Sheng came back to his senses, and laughed.
The shitty old man spat out, then a ball of snow smashed into Ye Qiu Sheng’s face from the ground, “I’m letting you wake up a bit, with conduct such as yours, arranging you the sect leader’s position already makes me feel a bit sorry for the forefathers, you even want to be the sect leader right now?”
“Fine, it must be something bad, say it.”
Ye Qiu Sheng wiped off the snow from his face. After all, it’s been this many years, of the jobs the shitty old man gave him, not one was easy. Ye Qiu Sheng was already accustomed to it.
“The Eight Immortal Sects……” The shitty old man paused, recalled that the Nine Provinces Private Bank had already perished, but did not change his way of speaking, and continued on, “Jiu Xuan Sect is summoning the immortal sects’ leaders. Yun Zi Mo has no way of leaving Tai Shang Sect right now, so we discussed it for a bit, and plan on sending you. After all, you are the next sect leader and also recognize Jiu Xuan’s new sect leader, it’ll be no different.”
Ye Qiu Sheng touched the handle of his blade, and went silent for a moment, then withdrew the frivolous smile he always wore on his face, and his expression turned serious.
“Shitty old man, what are you guys doing?”
The question Ye Qiu Sheng asked was a bit out of nowhere, however, his gaze had sharpened. Since he returned to Tai Shang Sect and was no longer lost, Ye Qiu Sheng perceived the changes to Tai Shang Sect. With the sect leader included, all the elders were a bit in a hurry, and at a time the country was in unrest, they were instead hidden and mysterious all day long, as though busying in secret, preparing something.
The hand the shitty old man was swaying the wine jar with stopped, and he went quiet for a bit, “I called you over to talk about this with you. Did you not frequently ask me what North Star Tai Shang was before?”
North Star Tai Shang.
Ye Qiu Sheng’s heart skipped a beat, and immediately recalled back when they were at the bottom of the Qiu Huang tower, Bai Li Shu asked him, as Tai Shang Sect’s eyes, did they not let him know about the North Star Tai Shang. At that time, when he heard Bai Li Shu mention those four words, Ye Qiu Sheng realized that whatever it was about the forefathers wanting Tai Shang Sect’s name to seem more powerful was just a nonsensical lie.
The shitty old man no longer lazily laid on the floor. He climbed up and sat straight, while his hair was all a mess and his face was a rarely-seen serious expression, “Tai Shang, also Tai Yi. Tai Yi is the legendary most paramount god. Think about it, from the past to the present, what kind of existence is truly able to use paramount to describe itself.”
Tai Yi, paramount……
It was pretty much a direct escape from the mouth, “Ancient emperor.”
Ancient emperor. When this term was said out loud, Ye Qiu Sheng’s facial colour changed, and he faintly perceived the words the shitty old man would say next would be related to something.
“The Heavenly pillars are tall and the North Star far. The North Star has one, with its name Tai Shang…… our Tai Shang Sect is within this northern lands’ ancient snowy ranges. As to why our Tai Shang Sect dares to call itself Tai Shang…… is because here, is originally the place where a Tai Shang existed.”
The shitty old man slowly spoke, his voice was low and deep, and carried a strange power.
The world seemed to have quieted down.
The Heavenly pillars are tall and the North Star far.
Within the era of Chaos, the area Tai Shang Sect was at, was the place the Cloud Emperor constructed the “Unfalling Country”. The Cloud Emperor was an ancient emperor who ruled the far-north, but with the end of the era of Chaos, and the severance of the Ten Thousand Immortals, the traces of the ancient emperors’ existence were purposefully erased from the land of the twelve dynasties- even for a person like Ye Qiu Sheng who had always pursued after various secrets, he could only approximately know which ancient emperors existed before, and where they approximately ruled over. As for the ancient emperors’ imperial cities, pretty much no one knew where.
Because a history spanning tens of thousands of years was enough to make all the clues be hidden and change.
Even in the Khlajöwwma Desert where the White Emperor ruled over before, the undying White Emperor could also only hide in the legends of the deity Namu.
And then, today, Ye Qiu Sheng finally knew.
Tai Shang Sect, was the place where the era of Chaos’ Cloud Emperor built the “Unfalling Country”.
The “Tai Shang” of Tai Shang Sect, referred to the true Tai Shang-like existence, the far-north’s king in the era of Chaos, the Cloud Emperor.
In the era of Chaos, a Heavenly pillar was erected on the northern lands, and the imperial city of the “Unfalling Country” loftily sat atop the Heavenly pillar. It was later on, when someone stepped into the imperial city above the clouds, that the Cloud Emperor, in the final years of the era of Chaos, was similarly unable to change their own destiny and fell. The imperial city that was bestowed by the Cloud Emperor with the wish of “Unfalling” became the Cloud Emperor’s burial grounds, and fell into the sweeping red magma. The Heavenly pillar too sunk down. The abnormality from that time created the sudden changes to the northern snowy plains, and the dragon-like ancient snowy ranges were then formed at that time.
Ancient earth’s snow rangesgǔ dì xuě mài,, ancient emperor’s blood veinsgǔ dì xuě mài..
This was the place where an ancient emperor shed blood.
When the shitty old man was narrating, his tone was very calm, but in that calm narration of his, the chaotic current of the ancient past came right into his face.
“The Cloud Emperor’s Heavenly pillar did not completely sink into the magma. It did not completely perish.”
The shitty old man stood up, and pointed to the main peak of Tai Shang Sect.
—— The sharp sword-like main peak stood on the earth.
“There, right over there. The Heavenly pillar was sunk underneath Tai Shang Sect’s main peak.”
The Heavenly pillars that stood on the twelve dynasties’ lands back then were a total of eight, of which, four Heavenly pillars were clearly destroyed as written in the Eighteen Clans’ records. However, as for the circumstances of the the remaining four pillars, was constantly vague in mention. The shitty old man and them surmised, Jiu Xuan Sect should know one of the locations of a Heavenly pillar, and as for the remaining two, that was unknown.
A Heavenly pillar was sunken beneath Tai Shang Sect’s main peak. For these many years, Tai Shang Sect had borrowed the aura from the Heavenly pillar, and circulated it into the entire sect’s flowing spiritual energy. The immortal cultivators’ strength should actually be said to originate from ancient emperors. However, after the era of Ten Thousand Immortals’ severance, and the ancient emperors fell, along with that fall of the ancient emperors, the world’s spiritual energy gradually thinned out day by day. For this, the immortal sects had to grow large stretches and stretches of ling zhi to replenish the world’s spiritual energy, and let the five elements maintain a certain degree of circulation.
The purposes of the spiritual veins and spirit stones were pretty much just this.
This was a secret that the immortal sects would definitely not publicize to the commoners.
Tai Shang Sect was a remote and barren northern land, and Tu Qi dynasty’s lands were not considered all that much- added with how the climate was high and cold, there was a limit to how many spiritual fields there could be. And so, after that many years, Tai Shang Sect had always borrowed the Heavenly pillar’s power
But now, the Heavenly pillar buried beneath Tai Shang’s main peak appeared with some changes.
—— It seemed to be resonating with something, being awakened bit by bit.
The tone the shitty old man narrated with was very calm, but Ye Qiu Sheng’s mood turned heavier and heavier.
Able to resonate with a Heavenly pillar, was only another Heavenly pillar. On the vast lands of the twelve dynasties, there was a Heavenly pillar already awakened, drawing in the Heavenly pillar underneath Tai Shang Sect.
It was very hard for people not to connect it with Qi Qin dynasty’s upheaval from these few days.
“Jiu Xuan Sect’s Heavenly pillar should not appear with problems that fast.” The shitty old man patted the snow from his body, and stood up, “It should be at Qi Qin. As for the remaining Heavenly pillar……”
The shitty old man knitted his eyebrows, as though he was thinking about something.
But in the end, he did not say anything.
When the immortal sects’ leaders—— or people with authority like the sect leaders gathered at Jiu Xuan Sect’s main sect, inside Jin Tang dynasty’s borders.
Jun Wan Bai, Li Xin, and Chu Zhi Yuan hid in a naturally formed cave.
Also hidden here, were not just them three- there were also ten or so Nine Provinces Private Bank disciples as well as a bunch of Jiu Xuan Sect’s tower-guarding disciples.
At the Mausoleum of Ten Million, Jun Wan Bai, Half-crazed Li, and Chu Zhi Yuan finally succeeded in obtaining the imperial map. Wen Ren Jiu, in the end, lessened their pressure to buy enough time for them, and when the Mausoleum turned into ashes along with the Scarlet Flame, the three were transferred out of the Mausoleum.
However, the transfer this time was not as successful as that time back in the bottom of the Qiu Huang tower.
Jun Wan Bai and the other two were not directly sent back to Jiu Xuan Sect’s main peak. However, good or bad, they were also not directly sent to inside Qi Qin dynasty where there was turmoil erupting out. They were sent to the place where Jin Tang dynasty’s southeast region met with Qi Qin dynasty. When they were just sent out, the three still could not very skilfully control the 《Three Wise Emperors’ Map》, thus, they had to hide first, and continue familiarizing and refining it for a period of time.
After they could tentatively not expose the aura and control the imperial map, the three then set out and rushed back to Jiu Xuan Sect.
It was also at this time that they met with the Bank disciples who tried to break out from Qi Qin dynasty’s southwestern border. Jun Wan Bai and the two then saved these Bank’s remaining disciples from the encirclement of Qi Qin dynasty’s army. Jin Tang dynasty, on the surface, had not broken facades with the immortal sects yet, but the south region of Jin Tang dynasty’s atmosphere had already turned amiss.
Jun Wan Bai and the other two brought the Bank’s disciples, and did not dare to directly journey within Jin Tang’s cities, hence, they could only walk through the more remote wild paths, and go into the high mountain ranges.
At the beginning, they did not know of the trumpet birds’ existence, and were repeatedly chased by iron-masked Jin Tang secret guards. After discovering the trumpet birds were actually monitoring eyes in the sky, they used the power of the imperial map, and then successfully hid the group’s whereabouts and broke away from the chase.
When they travelled halfway through, they encountered Jiu Xuan Sect’s disciples who were met with a surprise attack.
—— The disciples of Jiu Xuan Sect who secretly withdrew were attacked.
 神龙见首不见尾- literally, to see the head of the dragon, but not its tail. To reveal one part, but not the other.
 太一 (tai yi) I didn’t elaborate much on it before back when it was first introduced, but aside from reference to the north star/beta ursae minoris, it is also the name of a god worshipped in the Han dynasty era, described as the one who created the world.
It was when they reached the boundaries of Jin Tang’s south and north regions, that they met with that group of Jiu Xuan Sect disciples being attacked.
After the Qing Ming tower’s mishap, though Jiu Xuan Sect was still in control of the Qing Ming towers in Jin Tang dynasty’s territory on the surface, no one actually trusted the Qing Ming towers anymore. Thus, the groups of disciples who retreated from Jin Tang dynasty’s southern region back to the main sect did not ride flying vessels, but hid their tracks and rushed on swords. Jiu Xuan Sect used all their power to cover the retreating disciples’ traces, but the other party’s attention to Jiu Xuan Sect was obviously not ordinary.
Ambushing Jiu Xuan Sect’s retreating disciples was a cavalry draped in heavy armour- on principle, a normal army was practically of no threat in front of immortal cultivators. An army of mortals, no matter how much stronger they were, in front of the extraordinary power of immortal cultivators, were like nobodies. However, appearing in front of Jiu Xuan Sect’s disciples, was not an ordinary army. They were dressed in black heavy armour, and at the time Jiu Xuan Sect’s disciples did not perceive at all, they quietly appeared within the darkness, while the steeds they were riding were like the armour on them, of the most deepest black.
The army dressed in black armour riding odd black-scaled steeds melted in the night, as though they came here like ghosts along the wind, and trapped the Jiu Xuan Sect disciples who flew for a period of time and stopped rushing.
When the first Jiu Xuan Sect disciple discovered something wrong, the circumstances were already amiss.
The cavalry that seemed to have come from hell thickly surrounded them. The black armour that cavalry wore had detailed patterns like relieved engravings, and they silently stood all around, even when Jiu Xuan Sect’s disciples opened their mouths to interrogate them, they did not say a word. The faces underneath the cavalry’s helmets were of some ordinary soldiers’ faces, but those faces did not have any expressions. This strange, silently-appearing army did not have even the slightest air of a human realm’s army, but instead was much more like that distant army of Zangmu belonging to the deity Namu that controlled death in Khlajöwwma’s legends.
They came through the deepest of nights to reap souls.
The senior brother of Jiu Xuan Sect’s disciples leading the group felt unease, and he ordered the brothers and sisters to go into formation, then break through defence through the air—— and yet, long before he made this order, this Jiu Xuan senior already faintly had a hunch that breaking out of the encirclement through the skies flying on swords was not possible.
And the reality was as such- after they were surrounded in by the black cavalry, within the boundaries of where they were at, the area seemed to have sunk into a kind of strange stagnation. This bunch of retreating Jiu Xuan Sect disciples practically had no way of soaring into the air. The other party had an obscure and ancient aura, faintly giving off a kind of extremely uncomfortable pressure to the Jiu Xuan Sect disciples who were immortal cultivators—— like the other party had a much higher decree and much higher prestige.
The black-armoured cavalry brandished gloomy black blades, the war horses they were riding with black scales let out neighs, and then, in the next moment, the cavalry charged over here like a mad current.
After the failed attempt at riding into the skies, Jiu Xuan Sect’s leading senior brother shouted, and made the fastest response—— and at that time, it was also the most correct response. Jiu Xuan Sect’s disciples used the quickest speed to create a formation, and withstood the current-like cavalry’s attack. This strange army, apart from their power to seal the area, was actually not that exceptional in their individual power- at least, any one of Jiu Xuan Sect’s disciples were much stronger than any one soldier. However, they were an army.
The black-armoured cavalry surrounded the sword formation Jiu Xuan Sect’s disciples formed, and started running in circles like a vortex. The warhorses they rode galloped like wind, each soldier did not have the desire to continue fighting, and they wound in the surroundings of the sword formation Jiu Xuan Sect’s disciples made, while their long and heavy blades and swords cleaved down on the formation in succession. Each attack used all one’s strength, then, the rider that finished launching the attack would circle out to the periphery of the vortex, and the one behind would take their place, and the blades would continue cutting down like a corkscrew, bringing along with it the momentum of the warhorse’s dash. In an instant, these Jiu Xuan Sect disciples felt like they got caught up within a vortex of blades.
For the first time, they directly faced just how terrifying a thing an army was.
It was at this time, that Jun Wan Bai and the others then met this group of ambushed Jiu Xuan Sect disciples.
Unexpectedly, Jun Wan Bai actually recognized the attacking formation this black-armoured cavalry used- that was a military formation called a “Fang of the Teng Snake”. This kind of formation was invented during Jin Tang’s initial establishment, and the person who invented it was a famed general. This was a formation that specially used a cavalry. The most elite of warhorses and the most elite of the cavalry formed a vortex-like encirclement, and the soldiers on the inner and outer circle would follow the order of the rotation of the vortex, circling and taking turns to take an attack at the enemies within the centre of the vortex. Each soldier would only let out the most swift and fiercest attack, then alternate positions along with the rotation of the vortex, allowing the comrades-in-arms behind to take their places.
By circling like this, for the cavalry using the military formation “Fang of the Teng Snake” to attack, each person would be able to obtain enough time to recover strength, while the enemies trapped in the middle had to use all their strength without pause to withstand the attacks.
The vortex-like encirclement would shrink smaller and smaller, and the enemies would, under the blades’ meat-grinding machine-like eternally-unstopping attacks, die bit by bit, and in the end, when the core of the vortex completely disappeared, the enemies would be turned into dissolved meat in this process of shrinking.
Just like a Teng snake coiling its body, trapping its prey dead.
This was an extremely cruel military formation, but before this, the military tactics of mortals, no matter how amazing they were, were of no relation to immortal cultivators, as the extraordinary power immortal cultivators held was enough for them to show disdain for even the most elite of armies beneath the skies—— even if mole crickets and ants got into battle formations and orderly rushed like wind, what kind of threat could they pose to the elephant?
Because of this, all this time, practically no one among immortal cultivators would care for the ordinary people’s military tactics, don’t even mention studying it.
But at this time, this black-armoured strange cavalry told Jiu Xuan Sect’s disciples, just what a terrifying threat a military tactic specially prepared for war, when applied by soldiers who similarly had a extraordinary power, could create for immortal cultivators—— though clearly, the cavalry’s aura was strange, and their cultivation was not considered high, they were able to trap and kill the disciples of the immortal sects’ number one sect in one place.
However, a bit beyond expectations, not all of them did not have any understanding towards these military tactics.
Jun Wan Bai recognized this “Fang of the Teng Snake” , and as the sole person who understood this kind of strange vortex-like formation, she lead the Nine Provinces Private Bank’s remaining disciples and Half-crazed Li as well as Chu Zhi Yuan to form a small group, then followed the direction of the cavalry’s rotation, and rushed into the center of the encirclement like a sharp blade though its sole, extremely hard-to-detect weak point.
Half-crazed Li, and Chu Zhi Yuan then borrowed the opportunity to open up the 《Three Wise Emperors’ Map》. As the final efforts of three ancient emperors within the era of Ten Thousand Immortals, this imperial map they could still not completely control and unleash its power still, at the instant it spread out, broke the kind of seal this strange cavalry had towards the area. Borrowing the power of the imperial map, Jun Wan Bai and the others brought this bunch of ambushed disciples of Jiu Xuan Sect and rushed out from the massacre by the end.
After rescuing this bunch of ambushed disciples, Jun Wan Bai and the others finally knew much more of the changes regarding Jiu Xuan Sect.
He Zhou, that bastard who seemed to be displeased with everyone draped on the black robes of an elder, and turned as silent as a rock. And the most important thing was……
Their eldest disciple brother, Bai Li Shu…… perhaps should not be called eldest disciple brother now.
Bai Li Shu became Jiu Xuan Sect’s sect leader.
Jun Wan Bai leaned on the stone, and thought to some things while taking guard in the night.
When she heard that Bai Li Shu became Jiu Xuan Sect’s leader, she did not have even a sliver of surprise, only a kind of feeling like it was fate.
A feeling of destiny.
Except, she could not help but recall the first time she saw Bai Li Shu, when the young boy whose features still carried a bit of immaturity directly walked past her side, and walked into the main hall of the Jade Harmony Pavilion. Everything was like it was already predetermined- just like how once Bai Li Shu arrived, the position of the eldest disciple they fought for that long before was his, he would be destined to be Jiu Xuan Sect’s sect leader, destined to be like like how he was when they first met, and walk into the Jade Harmony Pavilion with a calm expression and features sealed in snow, and be in charge over there.
But thinking of these now, she felt like it was already of a past generation.
Just like how He Zhou became a rock-like silent elder…… they who were Jiu Xuan Sect’s disciples that fought and bickered, bearing high pride while looking at each other as eyesores back then, now were no longer able to merely consider themselves as a care-free disciple anymore.
The young people were bound to grow, upheaval and responsibilities, were the catalyst to growing up.
Long at the time Bing Province had an accident, they could no longer be like before, directly arranging for a fight on the martial stage if they did not see eye-to-eye, then straightforwardly going around and fighting. These all already became the past. In a world where violent storms had descended, the sect came faced with blood and fire, while they should stand in front of the little brothers and sisters, just like how the elders once fought off that wind and rain in the dark for them, they had to fight off the bloody wind and rain for the little brothers and sisters.
“Jun Wan Bai.”
Jun Wan Bai held her swords while leaning against the stone, when all of a sudden, she heard someone call her.
The voice was not high, it was very familiar.
She turned her head over, and raised her eyebrows in slight astonishment. Li Xin slowly walked out from the cave, he was still dressed in black clothes, and his face was so pale-white, he was more like a ghost rather than human, and from the look on him, he seemed to have something to say. However, what made Jun Wan Bai surprised was not this, but that Half-crazed Li, on a rare occurrence, did not call her “Last-named Jun”, and instead properly called out her name.
“What is it?”
Jun Wan Bai looked at him from the side, and asked.
Her tone was casual, but her hands instead slightly gripped the sword handles.
Li Xin was holding his blade, firmly looking at her. The light in the cave was dim, so he was just like a ghost standing in the darkness.
“You are a seed.”
After a long time, Li Xin opened his mouth. His voice was low and deep, and very light.
The relaxed expression on Jun Wan Bai disappeared bit by bit, and the cold winds from outside the cave poured in, carrying the icy coldness of the late night.
She expressionlessly stood up.
 腾蛇- teng, to mean soaring. Also called flying snake, a divine/celestial snake. Can also refer to a constellation just beneath the ones for the four divine beasts.
You are a seed.
When Jun Wan Bai heard this come out from Half-crazed Li, she did not feel surprised, but rather, there was a kind of set feeling of the dust falling down like “it still came in the end”. Just like a falling leaf fleetingly spinning and dancing from a very long time ago, had finally fallen down.
When she heard Jiu Xuan Sect started purging the sect’s disciples, Jun Wan Bai had this kind of premonition, there was bound to be one day, the thing she was worried about most would happen.
She would no longer be Xuan Shuang Peak’s eldest disciple sister, no longer be Jiu Xuan Sect’s disciple, and her little brothers and sisters would no longer trust her, and hand their backs to her.
Because, she…… was the seed that Jin Tang left in Jiu Xuan Sect.
Actually, at a time very long ago, Jun Wan Bai knew her memories had issues. She only remembered that she followed a bunch of exiled children, and painstakingly climbed the Connecting Heaven Staircase, and wanted to become Jiu Xuan Sect’s disciple, then live on. And yet, as for memories earlier than that, she could not remember.
When Master asked for her name, there seemed to be a voice in her mind that said, you are called Jun Wan Bai. Thus she said it, but in truth, she actually didn’t know if she was actually called Jun Wan Bai, but that voice in her mind seemed to carry an irresistible power.
Master lightly repeated her name once, then looked over to Sect Leader. Sect Leader walked over, extended his hand then pressed on her shoulders, and after a moment, nodded his head to Master.
—— Later on, she then understood the meaning of this surname, “Jun”. That was one of the Eighteen Clans that was born in the era of Chaos. Someone wanted to her to use this name to become one of Jiu Xuan Sect’s important disciples.
In the beginning, Jun Wan Bai actually did not mind these things, whether she was actually called Jun Wan Bai, whether there was actually someone who wanted to use her to do some things, what relation did it have with her? She only wanted to live on. She did not remember what kind of identity she had before, she only remembered she followed the group of refugees, starving and numbly walking in the desolate lands, feeling like the shadows of death was following around, unable to be shaken off.
She did not want to die.
Because, she had seen a person who was still on lingering breaths fall to the ground, then the crows in the sky flew down, pecking that person’s flesh. That person let out a hoarse yet despairing wail, yet the surrounding people only numbly circled around them. Everybody was people who would die at any time, nobody could save anyone. Jun Wan Bai saw that person’s eyeball get pecked out, and saw his face slowly crawl with worms, ugly and yet terrifying.
In that moment, she was that scared inside.
She did not want herself to turn like that, so she wanted to live on, and followed that voice in her mind and climbed up the Connecting Heaven Staircase step by step. Just at the time she fell down completely exhausted, a senior sister came over, and pulled her hand, then told her, she was Jiu Xuan Sect’s disciple now.
It was not like the voice her mind was there all the time. In a long period of time, Jun Wan Bai did not hear that voice again, that she even thought that was her own misconception.
Though Master took her in as a disciple, in the beginning period of cultivation, the one who raised her was not Master, but Senior Sister. it was that senior sister who came over to pull her up at the Connecting Heaven staircase. Senior’s surname was Zhou, first name, Jin. Zhou Jin, Zhou Jin. It was a name that carried a masculine air to it. Senior was just like her name, not as feminine and quiet like a girl, and when Senior was doing things, she would always be vigorous and swift.
Senior Zhou Jin was the representative of Xuan Shuang Peak at that time. She taught Jun Wan Bai sword techniques, and also brought her out from the shadows of constantly being worried about dying.
“What is there to be afraid of? If the sky collapses, someone tall will prop it up, if something happens, it is us seniors who will going against it front of you guys. With Jiu Xuan Sect this big, when would we need a small carrot-head like you to shoulder some big beam?” Senior Zhou Jin casually drew out some sword sparks, and looked at her to the side, “Shallow-skilled fellows should just keep on cultivating.”
—— If the sky collapses, someone tall will prop it up.
She finally realized, she was at Jiu Xuan Sect, she was Jiu Xuan Sect’s disciple, she had senior brothers and sisters. Here, there would not be hovering crows that wouldn’t leave, nor would there be worms crawling onto the face.
Jun Wan Bai, you are Jiu Xuan Sect’s Jun Wan Bai.
And then, just when she started liking this point, that voice that went dead in her mind for a long time once again appeared. In her dreams.
Jun Wai Bai started dreaming, dreaming night after night.
The dream was muddled and aimless inside. She saw a magnificent, bright and spacious room, with servants coming back and forth in order. She felt like she turned into a six or seven year old child, being embraced in the arms of a refined middle-age person. They sat by the window, and the bright sunlight was cast inside from outside the window, a bit dazzling.
The servants outside the window were coming and going, but the sounds of walking were very light.
She was held in the arms by the middle-aged person, while that person seemed to be her father. Father’s embrace carried a sunlight-like, almost unrealistic warmth. The table was placed with a pile of tactical books, and Father flipped open a page, then pointed to the military formation on it, and told her, “This is fang, this is Teng snake.”
She recited word by word along with Father, then Father rubbed her head, and would occasionally reveal a faint smile.
“Wan Bai is a smart child. Once you learn these formations, you can become Jin Tang’s general in the future. A child of a military god’s family, even if it they were a girl, would not be a person that those mediocre people can compare with. Our Wan Bai will be able to make enemies tremble at the news.” Father lightly said, praising her.
The her in the dreams did not know what a military god’s family was, nor did she know why she had to make enemies tremble upon news. She only wanted Father to praise her more, only wanted Father to lightly stroke her hair, and say Wan Bai is a smart child.
“Remember, Wai Bai’s going to become Jin Tang’s most impressive general.”
In the dazzling, almost illusory sunlight, Father lowly said this.
In a very long time, Jun Wan Bai pretty much could not tell apart what was reality, and what was a fantasy- was all the things she saw in her dreams her past? She was actually some general of Jin Tang’s daughter. But why would she follow the fleeing refugees of famine together on the road towards Jiu Xuan Sect? Why was that person who held her…… her father, not by her side? Shouldn’t a father be protecting their own child?
In that period of time, Jun Wan Bai had that many doubts inside, but on intuition, she did not mention it to anyone.
She only pressed the matters down inside.
The dreams she had grew more day by day, and the six, seven year old little girl in the dreams also slowly grew up, the military tactics she learned also started turning more profound, and was no longer simply remembering a few names. She would even follow Father to the barracks, and learn to command the army. The prideful expression on Father’s face grew more and more by the day.
Jun Wan Bai also started gradually accepting that the girl in the dream was herself, that was her own past.
She started to bear complicated feelings when waiting for that dream again, and wanted to know why, why that father who would embrace her in his arms was no longer by her side, leaving her alone to follow the refugees to walk on the desolate wintry lands like a walking corpse.
Before she could see what happened in the end, she became Xuan Shuang Peak’s inner-sect disciple, and left the sect to carry an assignment with her senior sisters for the first time.
When sitting on the flying vessel, Jun Wan Bai was thinking to the scene in the dreams from the other day, and was did not make any sound- Senior Zhou Jin thought she was scared, and thus walked over to stroke her hair, and patted her shoulders saying, “Don’t be nervous. We brought you guys out for a bit of experience this time, if something happens, this Senior is here.”
When Senior Zhou Jin’s hand stroked her hair, she thought she would recall Father stroking her hair in the dream.
But she did not.
What she recalled, was when she just climbed up the Connecting Heaven Staircase and staggered as she fell to the ground, when Senior came over, and pulled her hand. Senior’s hand was warm and powerful.
The mission that time was very simple- they only needed to go check a formation within the secret territory belonging to Jiu Xuan Sect, and if they discovered the formation had abnormalities, they return to the sect and report it.
The disciples who carried out this mission were many, and all this time, there was never any accidents, only that the environment in the secret territory was apparently a bit desolate. That was a stretch of boundless land, inside, be it the forests or rivers, all was a black colour. She did not know why, but when Jun Wan Bai walked in the secret territory, she constantly felt uncomfortable.
The formation was at the very center of the secret territory, and they needed to rush a day’s journey to be able to reach it. When they rested at night, Jun Wan Bai had a dream.
She dreamt of a black ancient python slowly crawling on the earth. When the ancient python’s eyes were looking at her, she felt fear and subconsciously wanted to avoid it, and subconsciously wanted to call out for Senior—— Senior said, she would protect her. However, the giant ancient python coiled by her side with its head up, and when the completely red eyes directly faced her, Jun Wan Bai felt like she was nailed to the spot, unable to move no matter what.
As she and the black ancient python looked at each other, unknowingly, she felt like her soul was being sucked through its pair of red eyes.
Her consciousness started turning hazy.
“Wan Bai is a good child, do not be scared.”
Faintly, there was a voice that said this, and she started feeling like she saw that magnificent courtyard full of sunlight again. The voice came over from her back, and she felt a familiar aura- Father was standing right behind her, facing that pitch-black ancient python with her.
“It only wants you set it free, Wan Bai, don’t be scared, walk over, I will be with you.”
Father lightly said, consoling her.
Under Father’s voice, she walked forward step by step. Her body seemed like it was being controlled, clearly, she was scared inside, and yet beyond her control, she extended her hand out, and went to touch that pitch-black python.
The ancient python lowered its head, and its sharp fangs submerged into her hand- it was sucking her blood.
The pain on the hand made Jun Wan Bai shout. She felt like the blood in her body was rapidly flowing away. She used strength to turn her head to see Father behind, and wanted to ask, didn’t Father say he would protect her? But when she turned her head, she froze, and in the next moment, she yelled out in panic- standing to her back, was a ghastly-white skeleton. The skeleton’s jaw bones clashed together, emitting out a low yet light voice of a middle-aged person with a peculiar strength.
—— It was not her father.
“Wan Bai! Wan Bai!”
The ancient python opened its giant mouth about to swallow her, and at this time, someone called out her name.
A ray of light suddenly broke apart the layers of darkness, pulling her out from the drowning-like suffocation. Jun Wan Bai abruptly opened her eyes and woke up.
The one who called her name was Senior Zhou Jun. Her expression was stern, and when she saw she woke up, she then briefly explained the situation—— just now, the formation in the secret territory appeared with abnormal movement, it was dangerous in the secret territory, so they need to withdraw immediately.
Jun Wan Bai looked in the direction Senior Zhou Jun talked about, and saw in the dim secret territory, in the place where the formation was that half a day’s journey from them, a black light pillar was rising from the ground—— in Jun Wan Bai’s eyes, that black light pillar was very similar to a black ancient python.
Senior Zhou Jin saw she was frozen, and thought she was afraid, then reached out to stroke her hair, and said, “Don’t be afraid, Senior’s here.”
She lowered her head, and saw blood slowly dropping to the floor from her own hand.
After a long time, Jun Wan Bai understood one thing.
She was the dynasty’s pawn, the seed that the dynasty buried at Jiu Xuan Sect, one of the blades the dynasty used against the sect. When she set out with her senior sisters to go to the secret territory, someone under Jin Tang, hidden beneath a cloak and darkness had written out her fate. Her blood was the Eighteen Clans’ blood, her blood was able to awaken the thing being sealed in the secret territory.
That long of a dream—— Jun Wan Bai did not want to care whether those dreams were actually real or false anymore—— was only there to make her walk up at the final moment, and use her own blood to awaken the thing being sealed.
She was a pawn- her fate, in the eyes of those people who spread Heaven’s net, was of no concern.
However, not all people did not care for her life.
When the black light pillar was rising up, the surroundings resounded with the sound of scales rubbing together, while its body intertwined with ghastly demonic black snakes, surging over like tides. Big, small, numbering in the tens of thousands. The thickly crowded snakes surrounded them, and wanted to bury them in this place.
Senior Zhou Jin’s pair of swords burst with a magnificent and refined light in the air, and killed off wave after wave of black snakes. She was being protected behind Senior, while the rank snake blood splattered over the face was as scalding as lava.
“Take this back, and tell Elder, the secret territory has changed.”
Senior Zhou Jin pushed her to the exit of the secret territory, activated the formation to transport one out of the secret territory, then pressed a jade rock engraved with the news into her hands.
She did not know what kind of expression she had at that time, probably a crying one, because after Senior put the jade rock into her hands, she froze, and patted her head, and said with a gentle tone, “Don’t be afraid, once you go out, it’ll be fine. Don’t cry…… even if the sky comes down, don’t you have Senior here to block it?”
The black snakes, the strong winds, the strange pressure, and the fragmented dreams all turned distant.
Her eyes only remained with Senior smiling at her, then turning around, and standing outside the formation. The pair of swords pointed to the ground, and a white light erupted out from her body—— activating the formation at the exit needed a bit of time, and those black snakes did not want to give them this time.
She once walked that long on the desolate lands, and felt in this world, no one could save anyone, and she herself would die off at any time too. But in the very end, there would still appear with this kind person, who, while gripping her swords, would smile and console, you don’t need to be afraid, then turn around to block off that boundless wind and rain for you.
Because she is your senior sister, and a senior is to always protect the little brothers and sisters. She said, if the sky collapses, someone tall would prop it, and if something happens, Senior would be here.
In that one instant, Jun Wan Bai finally understood, why Jiu Xuan Sect would be the world’s number one Jiu Xuan Sect, and why the seniors would consider Jiu Xuan Sect as their own family.
Because here, generation after generation, the senior brothers and sisters protected the little brothers and sisters, and the grown up little brothers and sisters would once again protect the new brothers and sisters.
This was Jiu Xuan Sect, not some sect from the era of Ten Thousand Immortals that kind of tall and distant thing, it was only those people, those familiar people.
As for what the past was, it was all of no matter anymore.
From that moment on, Jun Wan Bai was no longer afraid of death, because her life was actually no longer her own. Senior protected her and died in the dark secret territory, she originally should be a dead person. She would be brave like Senior, would be firm like Senior, would use a pair of swords like Senior, and would stand in front of Xuan Shang Peak’s little brothers and sisters just like Senior.
One day, she stood at the end of the Connecting Heaven Staircase, and saw the staggering and climbing Bai Li. She walked over, and pulled the little lady about to trip down—— just like when Senior pulled her back then.
At that moment, Jun Wan Bai felt like she heard Senior Zhou Jin lightly say, “Don’t be afraid.”
As time passed, she turned from Jiu Xuan Sect’s Xuan Shuang Peak’s official disciple to Xuan Shuang Peak’s eldest disciple sister. Jun Wan Bai took those dreams of that middle-aged man beneath the sunlight at the window holding herself all buried in the deepest parts of her memories. For a very long time, Jun Wan Bai no longer dreamt that courtyard—— she started dreaming of something else.
The dim secret territory, the pitch-black ancient python, the turning Senior.
A voice lightly said: It is you who harmed her, it is you who killed Senior, you are only desperately learning the sword, only to let yourself not to think of these things.
But you killed Senior.
This was a nightmare that Jun Wan Bai could not escape from, it was the biggest fear she buried inside. Everyone thought the abnormality at the secret territory back then was an accident, but only she knew clearly, it wasn’t some accident- it was she who had trusted that so-called Father’s words within the dream, and used her own blood to open the seal. She was the actual culprit.
That was her crime and mortal sin.
Perhaps one day, there would be someone who discovered her identity, would know she was the dynasty’s pawn, and when that day comes, Xuan Shuang Peak’s brothers and sisters would no longer called her Senior Jun.
However, before that day came, Jun Wan Bai wanted to be like Senior Zhou Jin, work hard, and work a bit harder, and have the ignorant little brothers and sisters protected behind herself. As though, as long as she did this, Senior would still not be dead, and her heart would not be in that much grief.
It was like she was waiting for a punishment destined to come.
Sometimes, Jun Wan Bai felt like the best end would be to die in battle for Jiu Xuan Sect when the others still did not know of her identity. This way, once she dies, what everybody remembered would still be Xuan Shuang’s head representative senior, and not other dishonourable character.
When Half-crazed Li’s words came out, Jun Wan Bai felt that judgment she was waiting for a long time finally came.
“So you do have a brain, Half-crazed Li.”
Jun Wan Bai laughed, and tossed her pair of swords to Li Xin.
Li Xin caught the swords and looked at her.
 周瑾- jin, for either a beautiful gem(jade), or virtuous. As for the masculinity of the name, a woman’s name typically bears more gentle imagery, whereas something that refers to sturdiness or something tough is more ‘masculine’ in nature.
 雷厉风行- to be as fierce as lightning and fast as wind.
 闻风丧胆- terror-stricken, essentially, when one’s name is heard.
After the pair of swords were tossed to Half-crazed Li, Jun Wan Bai felt like a taut breath of air was finally let out.
For a sword cultivator, the sword was her life, as a sword cultivator, she would definitely not hand out the swords that were viewed like her own life in typical circumstances. Handing over one’s sword, actually also carried a meaning of submission.
She leaned against the stone, and no longer looked at Half-crazed Li, then tried starting slowly humming a bit of an unfamiliar tune—— that was a small tune she heard Senior Zhou Jin hum before. She tried with some difficulty, and slowly pieced it together.
The light in the sky was dim, while Li Xin held Jun Wan Bai’s two swords, and expressionlessly looked at her.
The cold winds whistled by, with the sky’s colour on the verge of turning light.
Jun Wan Bai was looking at the light outside the cave, when suddenly, two things were tossed back. She subconsciously reached out and caught them—— Half-crazed Li tossed her pair of swords back to her again.
“Did water get in your brain?”
Jun Wan Bai caught the two swords, and raised her eyebrows to look at Half-crazed Li who had a face like someone owed him eighty thousand jin of spirit stones.
Half-crazed Li’s pale-white and ice-cold face that was like a dead person’s revealed a ridiculing smile Jun Wan Bai was familiar with, “If you toss your swords while bringing around a bunch of people, what are you going to fight those bastards from Jin Tang or Qi Qin with? Before we even reach Jiu Xuan Sect, you want to pile on the burden and quit? Nice thinking there.”
“So even you can say such a long sentence?”
Jun Wan Bai’s pair of swords clashed together, and clapped for Half-crazed Li.
Half-crazed Li coldly looked at her, and turned to walk into the cave.
Once the clashing of the pair of swords stopped, the back returned to peace, and along with the cold winds pouring in, Jun Wan Bai’s softened voice entered Half-crazed Li’s ears. It was unlike the voice Jun Wan Bai normally used, light and low.
The muscles on Half-crazed Li’s face moved, and he stopped, then stood there.
In that moment, Half-crazed Li, Jun Wan Bai, neither of them said anything, and the cave was quiet beyond imagination.
“If you don’t remember the melody, then don’t sing, even the bastards from Fan Yin Pavilion reciting scriptures aren’t as terrible as your singing.”
Half-crazed Li stiffly tossed down these words, and walked into the cave.
Jun Wan Bai slightly froze, “Fuck you bastard, Half-crazed Li, how can this old lady sound as bad as that bunch of baldies from Fan Yin Pavilion?”
She laughed while cursing.
She laughed and laughed, then leaned against the wall, and lifted her head up. She reached out and covered over her face, and tears slowly seeped out between her fingers.
—— Don’t be scared, if the sky collapses, someone tall will prop it up. If anything happens, Senior is here.
Her ears once again lightly resounded with Senior’s voice.
Jin Tang dynasty.
Unlike the northern region, the atmosphere in Jin Tang dynasty’s south was pretty much harsh and stern.
When Jun Wan Bai was humming, and Half-crazed Li tossed the pair of swords back to her, Shen Chang Ge stood before a window, and watched that layer of flickering faint blue thin fog slowly springing up in the world while the skies were on the verge of turning bright.
Jiu Xuan Sect’s people were currently retreating- Yi He Ping was certainly an opponent that couldn’t be looked down upon, he felt the uneasy airs about to come within Jin Tang’s southern region. However, the current sect leader was no longer Yi He Ping anymore, but Bai Li Shu.
When Shen Chang Ge received the news of Bai Li Shu becoming Jiu Xuan Sect’s sect leader, he froze.
He subconsciously recalled back when he first visited Bai Li Shu, and walked up the stones stairs on Qing Hua Peak, and then saw the fluttering white-robed and chilly-featured young man walk out from the clouds and mist. Very much like an outer-worldly immortal. The immortal soars up above the clouds, overseeing the sea of blue.
Shen Chang Ge closed his eyes, and tried to imagine what the always apathetic Bai Li Shu would look like if he no longer wore white robes, and what He Zhou, that bastard who fought countless battles with him, would look draped in an elder’s black robes with an icy expression.
He was not able to imagine it.
A trumpet bird flew out from the faint-blue morning fog, and landed on the windowsill. Shen Chang Ge rose up with complicated feelings inside, and reached out to take off the secret letter the trumpet bird brought.
The words on the secret letter were extremely simple, saying, the time has come.
Primordial slightly shook in Shen Chang Ge’s palm, pulverizing the secret letter along with those messy memories in his mind, falling down like ashes.
A masked person hidden in the shadows to Shen Chang Ge’s back very respectfully responded, then stood up, and silently melted into the darkness, dispersing like a flock of crows.
A majority of the news of the results regarding Jiu Xuan Sect’s retreating disciples’ annihilation came in droves, some succeeded, while some failed- sometimes, Shen Chang Ge actually did not know whether he hoped that the plans of killing Jiu Xuan Sect’s disciples would go smoothly, or that it would fail, but in the very end, he was a coward.
No matter what, Yi He Ping’s vigilance was not wrong.
Jin Tang certainly did not plan on allowing the Qing Ming towers belonging under Jiu Xuan Sect’s control to continue existing near the capital. South Chen and Jin Tang were the two dynasties that were controlled and influenced the strongest by Jiu Xuan Sect, with the mountain rivers as boundaries to Jin Tang dynasty’s south and north regions, the north had Jiu Xuan Sect’s main sect there, and was the place that was controlled the strongest by Jiu Xuan Sect.
Jin Tang dynasty abandoned the control of the northern region, and instead sought for the precise control of the dynasty’s south region.
In the next few days, a lofty Heavenly pillar would rise up from the earth of Jin Tang’s south, and Jin Tang’s army would obtain an ancient power, obtaining a power able to counter the immortal sects with. It was easy to see, this was something the immortal sects would not sit and let happen, thus, before awakening the Heavenly pillar, Shen Chang Ge had to purge Jin Tang’s south lands.
They would not leave any place controlled by the immortal sects, they must seal off all the news of its existence before the Heavenly pillar rose up.
As the price for purging Jin Tang dynasty’s south, they would give up Jin Tang dynasty’s northern region, and let it fall into Jiu Xuan Sect’s control.
A country, if even its land was forced to be abandoned, then for sure, it must already reach a point where one could not retreat.
Qi Qin dynasty’s torch had already been burning for very long, and as an ally, Jin Tang, no matter how it was said, could not lag behind too long.
The first torch rose up in Jin Tang’s capital.
In Jin Tang’s country, there was also Jiu Xuan Sect’s branch and Qing Ming towers present, and because this was Jin Tang’s capital, the scale of Jiu Xuan Sect’s branch and Qing Ming tower was even bigger than other regions.
Inside Jin Tang’s capital, within Jiu Xuan Sect’s branch.
The elder-in-charge stationed at this branch sat cross-legged at the peak of the tall building, with a deep-blue ancient sword suspended at his back, slowly rotating.
Starting three days ago, the elite disciples from Jiu Xuan Sect within Jin Tang’s capital started secretly retreating. The other elite disciples of Jiu Xuan Sect at other places within the south region already started retreating at a much earlier time. However, this branch was located in the Jin Tang’s capital city, the heart of Jin Tang, so if there were some abnormal movements, it would be the easiest to discover. To not expose that Jiu Xuan Sect’s disciples were retreating too early, it was three days ago that the disciples started secretly retreating quietly. The final group of retreating disciples were secretly sent out the city just a few hours ago.
The remaining disciples left within the branch now, were the ones they had no way of sending out.
Or perhaps it should be said…… they were to be sacrificed.
The elder felt extremely apologetic to these remaining disciples inside, they were also Jiu Xuan Sect’s disciples, but at this kind of time, Jiu Xuan Sect had no way of protecting all its people.
The elder in charge of this area was of the surname Yun, he once was a guarding elder of Jiu Xuan Sect’s main sect, and three years ago, he received Sect Leader Yi He Ping’s orders to come here.
An arrow flew through the night sky, a fairly extraordinary arrow- the arrow was enveloped in a gold light. When it tore apart the skies, it left a gold, dazzling trace in the skies, just like molten gold.
Elder Yun suddenly opened his eyes.
It has come.
He shouted out loud, and the deep-blue ancient sword suspended to his back quickly unsheathed, and the clear sound of the sword was like a crane’s cry. A strike of light broke out its casing, and used a similarly quick speed to meet that incoming arrow. When the arrow was about to enter Jiu Xuan Sect’s branch’s territory, he pulverized it in the air.
“Those who go against my Jiu Xuan, die!”
An ice-cold, killing intent-filled voice rumbled in the upper space of the entire Jiu Xuan branch in the capital like thunder, while the disciples who were long prepared shouted altogether, and their blades and swords quickly unsheathed.
The sun to the eastern skies sprung from the horizon, and the early morning’s sun, without even a sliver of warmth, coldly shined on this world.
Heavy horse hooves resounded, and groups and groups of cavalries donned in black heavy armour slowly walked out from the thin faint-blue fog. When the sunlight fell to their patterned armour, the borders emitted a ice-cold light. The horses these heavy-armoured cavalries rode had hideous scales, but what was more strange was, the bodies of these horses had black bone wings.
If Ye Qiu Sheng or Chen Ge Guang was here, they would definitely be able to recognize them.
This cavalry, the strange warhorses they rode on, was clearly a miniature version of the odd beasts those white-boned knights rode in the destroyed Namu’s city.
They were also just like the Cloud’s Unfalling Country’s passing army current back in the image Ye Qiu Sheng saw underneath the Qiu Huang tower.
The black-ironed cavalry appeared underneath Jin Tang’s sunlight, and surrounded Jiu Xuan Sect’s branch, the faces of the cavalry were all ordinary soldiers’ faces, but what they held in their hands, was instead a ghastly, white-boned long spear. Other than this, on top of the either tall or low house eaves, some masked shadows draped in black cloaks floated there like ghosts.
Shen Chang Ge stood at a tall building, and looked on distantly.
His hand held a longbow. That arrow just now signalling the orders to attack was something he shot.
The blood, the fire, the cries of warhorses, the rumbles of houses toppling, the wrath of life ending.
Just like that period of time before in Qi Qin dynasty, the fiery raging fires burned up within Jiu Xuan Sect’s territory.
The flames of war burned up in the capital, and Shen Chang Ge sat at a tall building watching it all. He felt the entire city, the entire world, was being shaken by the flames of war, with its sounds of raging fire, and the incoming smell of blood.
The battle continued for a very long time.
Jiu Xuan Sect. The world’s number one sect, Jiu Xuan Sect, even if it was just a branch, just a branch which a large half had already retreated, it was much stronger than they imagined—— its disciples did not make retreat in battle, and its elders bellowed as they brandished their sword.
However, armour would submerge everything in the end.
Just like the previously ever-lofty ancient emperors perished to the Eighteen Clans’ war banner in the end, the current immortal sects would also burn under the mortals’ fires of anger in the end.
As disciple after disciple died in battle, the last person gradually remained in the fires.
The black heavy-armoured cavalry surrounded the last elderly person and coiled around them.
Teng snake, Teng snake, the fang of Teng snake.
They were about to kill the final living person of Jiu Xuan Sect’s branch into pieces- the armoured warriors that disappeared in the long river of the era for many years revived in the mortals’ physical body, and after reviving, their animosity would soon kill all their enemies.
Elder Yun roared, and the deep-blue longsword shattered the white bone spears one after another. He was like a tiger, yet also like a giant dragon, letting out a roar of anger towards the mole crickets and ants who challenged its might.
With Elder Yun’s cultivation, he originally could break out from the encirclement, but he did not.
He was able to escape, but he did not run.
For an elder, he had been very terrible, he had no way of protecting every disciple, and had no way of sending off every disciple.
He looked on helplessly as Jiu Xuan Sect’s disciples died in battle in front of himself, so once the disciples died, what face did an elder have to live on?
—— He would, along with his disciples, with his Jiu Xuan, die together.
Prideful even to death.
“Your Majesty, the battle has continued too long.”
The mask-wearing Du Ya lowered his head and stood behind Shen Chang Ge.
Shen Chang Ge observed the distant strikes of light, and let out a long sigh, “End it.”
He turned around, and went down the building.
A gold, crashing sun-like light drew over the skies, and hit the elderly person surrounded by black armour.
In that instant, Shen Chang Ge who stood on the building’s stairs stopped in his steps.
After a long silence, he then slowly walked down from the stairs.
Consort Chen opened the secret passage, and Shen Chang Ge walked in.
This secret passage hidden beneath Jin Tang’s imperial palace wound around, and was shockingly long, with the two sides thickly engraved with many characters. Right now, those characters were illuminated by the faint gold light emitting from the stone.
Shen Chang Ge walked to the end of the secret passage.
At this time, the fairly big underground spiritual opening’s strange stone seats were filled with people. All of Ji clan’s elders and people draped with black cloaks gathered here, and sat upon the stone seats, and groveled in respect to the tall platform Shen Chang Ge once cried out at.
Shen Chang Ge walked over, and knelt down on an empty stone seat.
The circle of people at the very front were not Ji clan’s elders, but the people draped in black cloaks.
They were formerly the Eighteen Clans, and later on, the “demons”. After being released from the seals, they joined the dynasties’ group. At this time, they knelt on the stone seats, and recited an ancient and verbose incantation towards the tall platform, as though mutually responding to something invisibly.
Why would a spiritual opening appear underground Jin Tang?
The answer was actually very simple.
Because here…… was the place a Heavenly place was submerged in.
Right now, they would soon reawaken the Heavenly pillar.
This was a process that needed a very long time, so Jin Tang did not allow for the sects’ people to exist in the borders. However, since that Heavenly pillar in Qi Qin dynasty’s region was already awakened, with the resonance of an awakened Heavenly pillar, the remaining pillar(s) they needed to awaken would come a bit easier.
Qi Qin dynasty, the merchant city.
Liao Qian pulled a long face crouching on the floor, and moaned and groaned as he watched Clear-hearted Monk sit cross-legged and meditate, anxious with a stomach of bitter water.
The merchant city was the very first originating point of the entire upheaval in Qi Qin dynasty, and was where the Mountain Rivers Scroll first opened. After that world-shaking night of fire passed, the merchant city long entered martial law. Soldiers donned in heavy armour flipped the city over and again, searching many times, and many of the remaining immortal cultivators of the Nine Provinces Private Bank got caught.
Liao Qian carried the seriously-injured Clear-hearted Monk and hid for a few days, and felt like he was going to die.
He was considered not that familiar with the merchant city, since he stayed at Bing Province the longest. After relying on the Xiu Shen Blade to bring Clear-hearted Monk to hide a few times, the two’s positions were exposed, and the encirclement shrunk smaller and smaller. Liao Qian and Clear-hearted Monk were hiding in a ruined house at that time, when they heard gradually approaching footsteps from outside.
Liao Qian thought, ah, it’s over.
It was not like he was an amazing person like that eldest disciple brother from Jiu Xuan Sect, able to freeze fourteen provinces with one strike. To be able to bring this seriously injured monk from Fan Yin Pavilion while the entire city was under martial law and hide for a few days, and not directly hanging up, was already considered incredible for him.
Clear-hearted Monk’s primordial energy was still in an unstable state. After being seriously injured, they did not have time to heal, and still needed to hide from place to place, making the originally serious injuries turn even more serious. When he heard the approaching sounds of footsteps outside, he reached out and gripped his Buddhist beads, about to stand with a pale-white face. Liao Qian found it annoying, and took the Buddhist beads away, while the Xiu Shen Blade thrust into the ground.
Liao Qian cursed, and the stars on the Xiu Shen Blade started lighting up one by one.
—— They were going to die either way. Right now, he actually became the strongest person of them. No way around it, no matter how it was said, only he could go up.
Just when Liao Qian’s stomach was filled with discontent and he became determined, the sound of footsteps outside turned far and near at times, while he tightened his face, and maintained the stance of risking his life for a long time. In the end, he waited so long the hand he held the blade with shook, but the footsteps outside were still like that, seemingly near and far.
“Little brat, how long are you going to practice the horse stance?”
Just when Liao Qian thought the person outside might have gotten the case of twilight, a slightly teasing voice that the more it was heard, the more improper, resounded.
With a lift of the head, he saw an old bat blind man crouching on the wall of the broken house, tossing a string of Buddhist beads up and down.
Liao Qian then touched his chest- the Buddhist beads he just took from Clear-hearted Monk vanished into thin air.
The old bat who saved them was of unknown origins, and after the Mountain Rivers Scroll opened in the merchant city, he could still laxly use illusory spells to deceive the patrolling soldiers.
The old bat took away that string of Buddhist beads of Clear-hearted Monk’s, saying, it was the rescue fee. And then, he brought them to a small house after winding around, with a young boy whose expression was not that well chopping firewood in the courtyard- when he saw he brought people back, he only rolled his eyes and did not ask much.
The old bat also found a messy wig off from who-knows-where, and threw it over Clear-hearted Monk’s head, then also tossed two sets of clothes to them to change into and disguise, disguising them as ugly as possible. They looked to be no different from the refugees who escaped from disasters. After disguising themselves, the old bat patted Clear-hearted Monk’s shoulder, and Clear-hearted Monk groaned, and felt like the primordial energy in his body that turned disorderly from the changes of the world’s five elements strangely calmed down.
Clear-hearted Monk bowed towards the old bat, and inquired which sect’s senior he was from.
The old bat coldly humphed, and waved his hand, saying, “This bat ain’t nothing, just a fortuneteller.”
Once Liao Qian heard, he only twitched the corners of his mouth- just a fortuneteller, was this amazing of a fortuneteller common though? However, the old bat saved them, after asking a few times and seeing that he would not say, Liao Qian and Clear-hearted Monk no longer asked.
Like this, Liao Qian and Clear-hearted Monk stayed in this small courtyard. Those living here were mostly vagrants who sought refuge- the prefectural executive of the merchant city took in the refugees who were close to ages of young men, and after the spiritual fields originally belonging to the Bank were destroyed of their formations, he divided a bit of it to these vagrants according to their numbers.
The old bat even brought Liao Qian and Clear-hearted Monk to the government office to register, and also got some land.
They followed this improper old bat and lived in this courtyard, carrying hoes to the fields, and when they came back, the young boy called “Shi’zi” would gloomily go off to chop wood in disgust. Once time turned long, Liao Qian almost really thought he had become a farmer.
But it was missing that little bit.
The atmosphere shrouded over the merchant city was still very tense. The armoured soldiers would pass by the streets day and night, and the warrants for arrest posted on the crossroads would change from time to time.
If the warrants lessened, then the person was either already caught, or already dead. If the warrants increased, Liao Qian knew that there were still other people from the Bank that were alive. The situation was far too tense, so Liao Qian did not dare to go see those warrants everyday to avoid people discovering something wrong with himself, thus, he would take turns with Shi’zi to blend with the crowd at each street to look.
In the end, the Nine Provinces Private Bank was one of the Eight Immortal Sects. They may be destroyed, but by borrowing the accumulation and gathering of wealth, there were quite a few people who lived on.
Liao Qian did not know how the circumstances of the other living Bank disciples were, nor did he know how to contact them, he could only look at the news of the warrants each day to judge.
Clear-hearted Monk’s body was injured, and mostly stayed in the courtyard to recover. The old bat went out everyday, and when he came back, he would bring back a bag of random herbal plants and toss it to Clear-hearted Monk, and let him boil it himself. It was unknown just whose work that compound of herbs was, but the smell simmered out was bitter and stinky and also sour, even from afar, it was able to make people’s stomachs immediately flood with bitter water.
Thankfully, Clear-hearted Monk was able to drink it down without changing expressions.
After pouring down a big pot of messy herbs each day, Clear-hearted Monk’s injuries gradually recovered for the most part, and he started going out to secretly gather information.
It was here when things turned bad.
This day, Clear-hearted Monk was walking out with Liao Qian, and when they reached the east street, they saw a soldier in armour dressed like a military official stick a bulletin on the wall.
Liao Qian went near to look, and his insides went cold instantly.
The bulletin was drawn with some people, with names commented on the side. The people on it, Liao Qian all recognized- it was pretty much all their Bank’s disciples. The words on the bulletin were concise, and announced that three days later, they would execute these people at the north market.
The sole good news was, there was another person on the drawing.
Liu Wu Yan.
She did not die—— though this bulletin was posted, dying three days later and dying before, Liao Qian did not know which end was better.
At that time, Clear-hearted Monk’s expression changed. Liao Qian saw that the situation was unfavourable, and when the crowd was gathering over here, hurriedly pulled Clear-hearted Monk and left.
The thing to worry about was here.
Were they able to look on helplessly as those people on the bulletin were killed? No.
But in truth, Liao Qian always felt that Fan Yin Pavilion’s Clear-hearted Monk had some feelings for He Huan Sect’s eldest disciple sister…… the matter of how Liu Wu Yan and Clear-hearted Monk were mortal enemies was something the entire immortal cultivation realm knew. As long as the place appeared with Liu Wu Yan, Clear-hearted Monk would definitely be there too.
That day when he rose up from the coffin at the graveyard, it wasn’t like his eyes were blind, and did not see Clear-hearted Monk’s actions that actually subconsciously wanted to protect Liu Wu Yan.
But with him and Clear-hearted Monk, how does one save people?
Probably by putting up another mouthful of meat.
And at the same time, underneath the barren ranges outside the merchant city.
This was an opened up space that was fairly big.
The Nine Provinces Private Bank, as the most oil-leaking wealthiest of the Eight Immortal Sects, in these many years, had many beyond-countless spiritual tools. There were some bizarre and strange, with all sorts of shapes and sizes, and even some remnant resources from the era of Chaos.
Relying on these resources, the day the main establishment of the Private Bank was destroyed, there was still an elder who successfully activated a tool, and brought some disciples and escaped. Unlike Elder Jiang and Elder Chen from before, these elders and disciples of the Bank did not choose to run out of Qi Qin dynasty, but instead hid within the dynasty’s borders.
Borrowing the power of the remaining tools from previous eras, these people of the Bank concealed their own auras, and safely hid within the dynasty when the world’s spiritual energy transformed, secretly gathering other people of the Bank who lived on.
In truth, if Liao Qian seriously listened to the miscellaneous studies the elders taught back then, he would be able to receive news from the secret signs in the streets’ hidden places and gather together with the other Bank disciples.
—— But at that time, Liao Qian was sleeping.
These people of the Bank who stayed, they believed that the immortal sects could not be powerless within the dynasties- they risked danger and hid away, and then in a future critical time, were able to cause serious damage that the dynasties could not imagine.
During these days, this group of people remaining from the Bank weren’t idling- after experiencing a period of loss in the very beginning, they very quickly reassembled, and started gathering news within Qi Qin dynasty, and even tried to make some important counterattacks.
One of the most successful times was, a small group of people from the Bank assassinated people from Qi Qin dynasty who were in charge of the Qing Ming towers, then pretended to be them and entered Bei Ting Province’s Qing Ming tower, and even successfully activated the original formation in the Qing Ming tower, destroying the invisible relationship between the Qing Ming tower and the burial ground of an ancient emperor.
Now, leading these hiders of the Bank located near the merchant city, were two elders from the Nine Provinces Private Bank’s main establishment.
He Wu Yin and Xie Gui Ting.
They were like Liao Qian and Clear-hearted Monk, in deep thought regarding the new bulletin the merchant city suddenly put out.
The manoeuvre from not long ago destroying Bei Ting Province’s Qing Ming tower was a plan they carried out after killing Jin Tang’s secret guards and obtaining the information.
The movements that time were too big, and Qi Qin dynasty already perceived the threat of them.
At present, it was easy to see that this news was a trap specially made for them.
—— Using those captured Bank disciples as bait, Qi Qin dynasty created a plan of murder aimed against them within the merchant city.
Even if they knew, were they really able to watch the Bank’s disciples die like this?
 苦水- bitter water, to mean the gastric secretions/juices from your stomach.
 扎马步- a quick google search calls it a horse stance, which sounds really awkward but there probably won’t be anything better to it. According to baidu, it’s one the basic/principle steps to training the legs/balance and circulation, where one spreads their legs far apart and maintains a sitting position with a straight back, similar to holding a position like sitting on an invisible chair. For image reference.
 鬼打墙- literally, ghosts hitting walls, where the person would circle in place without awareness for their actions. English refers this to a twilight state, where one is unaware of their surroundings and often does not recall doing such things.
 不翼而飞- The expression here is, to fly without wings.
 何无音, 叶归汀, first one, soundless, the other, to the sand banks.