Zhao Ge Chapter 51-60

Chapter 51

Chapter Fifty-One, Cannot be Stopped, the Immortal Eight Sects. (不得休⽌, 仙门⼋宗)
Bai Li Shu leaned against the wall, hung his hand down, and slightly turned his head, as though the person whose breath was getting weaker and weaker was not himself. If Jun Wan Bai saw his face at this time, she would then find out that when this person didn’t put on a cold expression, their face would not have that kind of sharp and aloof hint of coldness to it, but instead would be gentle and soft.

On the pretty much transparent face, an unspoken weariness emerged from their features.

Completely different from how he was normally.

The dormant poison in his veins wilfully circulated around, and the blood from the fingertips permeated into the bronze token bit by bit. When the blood dropped down, it was like life dropped down along with it. This was definitely not considered to be a good feeling.

Tens of thousands of blades were wilfully traversing in the blood vessels, could it be considered good?

And yet, Bai Li Shu’s expression was just like he was accustomed to this kind of circumstance of being weakened and frail to the point to dying at any time. One could not make out a sliver of fear from his face, only a kind of weariness brought by the over-familiarity and frequency. The speed of the blood flowing out turned faster and faster along with the dormant poison in his veins, and the soul seemed like it would run out along with the blood at any time. When he was still in Jiu Xuan Sect, on that day at the sect market, he once said, “Spirit, oh spirit, who has restrained you? Where did the dead go, where the living go to cry sorrowfully. Return, return, for I will be like the shadows. Come, come, for time does not rest.”

Death follows one like the shadows, without tolerance for any resistance.

However, if one could live, and live happily, who would be willing
to die?

The so-called immortal cultivators, what they chased after was that
illusory and insubstantial eternal life, but all in all, in reality, it was only just a fear towards death.

At a time when he hadn’t come here yet, when he was still “Dong Ling’s Bai Li”, Bai Li Shu clearly understood that he himself would die, and die far more earlier than everyone else. Maybe today, maybe tomorrow. When the famous great doctor[1] was invited to take a look at his sickness, they told him for this sickness, if one wanted to treat it, albeit difficult, was possible, and to treat and live beyond it was also possible.

“However, Sir, you and us people who don’t have any constraints are not the same.” The old doctor’s hairs were greyed, yet their eyes were crystal clear, seeping out with a wisdom characteristic of an elderly person, “If you want to treat the sickness, then you must clear your heart and be passive, and must not listen nor think, however…… can you do it?”

“I understand what Mister means.”      He went silent for a long time, then said this in a light voice.

The old doctor lightly sighed, “I am only a small, small doctor. Someone like me cannot understand the ambitions that someone like you Sir Bai Li has in your position. Young Sir is renowned, however, if you were to continue on like this, you would eventually die. After death, even if your fame was spread far and wide, what use is it?”

“It’s not related to fame.”

Inside the secret room with only him and the doctor, Bai Li Shu turned his head to look at the guards standing outside the window, and those young Bai Li clan members.

The old doctor followed his gaze, and let out a long sigh. “I understand.”
No one was willing to die. If one clearly knew they were going to die and would let it be, then there must be something more important to do than their life.

If he really would be clear-hearted and passive, listen to nothing, think of nothing, then what will become of the Bai Li clan? What will become of those young clan members with eyes still jumping with the fire of life?

They were still that young, respectfully calling him Family Head, looking at him as though he was a god.

Bai Li Shu leaned against the wall, lowly hung his eyes down, with his face a pale-white.

The blood still slowly dripping from his fingertip was not ordinary blood, but was blood essence that for every drop immortal cultivators lost would weaken them by one bit. Ye Qiu Sheng used half of his own blood essence to summon the Hui snake spirit, and almost handed over his life in the bronze prison underneath the Spirit Star temple. Yet Bai Li hung his hand down, and let the blood essence continuously drop.

And yet the person himself was thinking of those things that seemed to happen at a time very long ago. The bronze token was just like a Tao Tie[2], greedily absorbing Bai Li Shu’s blood like it didn’t know what it meant to be full, and the scaly dragon beast pattern on the token slowly lit up. Just when Bai Li Shu’s breathing gradually weakened to point of approaching none, the tablet’s scaly dragon beast pattern finally completely lit up.

This was the most oldest, and also the most dangerous way to refine
a tool.

In the era of Chaos that used bronze for arms, all the vessels made
from bronze would definitely have a unique status, and the magic scripts engraved on the bronze tool would also signify the bronze tool’s class and standing. A scaly dragon was a small dragon born with wings and a pair of horns, had long and thin downward-hanging fur, that cries in nine tones- a divine beast that only good and honest and wise monarchs could see.

A bronze device engraved with patterns of the scaly dragon beast, in the era of Chaos, was a ritual device that only ancient emperors had the qualifications to use.

Before using the bronze ritual tools, there was always a need to offer up a sacrifice to the bronze tool itself, typically a slave or odd beast’s blood. Along with the change of the eras, these ancient ritual tools today became an immortal cultivator’s strong spiritual tool that could not be obtained even if one begged for it.

And at present, Bai Li Shu followed the method of ancient sacrifice for the bronze tool, and used his own blood to refine this bronze token.

Ye Qiu Sheng felt that a person like Bai Li Shu could not be like a person of desperation, but a person who was far too smart and could have anything calculated to its fullest, sometimes, was not much different from a desperate person.

At least, not all desperate people could do this kind of thing where they pretty much had their entire body of blood essence forced out to this point without a change in expression. After the bronze token’s scaly dragon beast lines swallowed up just about all of Bai Li Shu’s blood essence, it finally completely activated and lit up. The token rose up, and was suspended in midair in front of Bai Li Shu. It slightly revolved, and let out a veiled ancient fluctuation, then, a red light emitting from the tablet faintly contained with a clear cry connected to Bai Li Shu’s forehead.

After the red light flew into Bai Li Shu’s forehead, Bai Li Shu’s blood essence that was originally already close to being dried up was just like a dried small creek that was being pulled into new river water all of a sudden, and instantly started to surge forward again.

Inside the scaly dragon token, was a sliver of an archaic scaly dragon’s blood essence.

Bai Li Shu sacrificed his own blood essence to the bronze token, and finally obtained the bronze token’s approval. After receiving the token’s approval, the scaly dragon blood essence sealed within turned over and was absorbed by Bai Li Shu, remedying that lost blood essence Bai Li Shu sacrificed from it. As the scaly dragon blood essence slowly entered inside the body, Bai Li Shu’s face turned slightly better.

The red light continued for about an incense’s time, and finally, it disappeared, and the token fell in front of Bai Li Shu.

When Bai Li Shu raised his hand to catch the heavy token, he felt that one thread of inseparable relationship between him and the token.

At this time the scaly dragon beast pattern on the token faintly emerged with a sliver of black colour—— that was the dormant poison that was poured into the token along with Bai Li Shu’s blood essence. This was Bai Li Shu’s true goal- finding the spirits of the five elements was not something that could be done within a short period of time, and before that, he still had things to do. The several times he took action before this already caused the dormant poison inside the body to flood to a very terrifying point. And since the method of complete eradication could not be done at the time, then he must find a way to temporarily suppress it.

Having his blood essence flooded with dormant poison inside the body all exchanged was one kind of method. Although it could not completely uproot it, there was a period of time needed until the new dormant poison once again congested his veins. With the dormant poison temporarily rid of, the remaining could be suppressed.

What he needed, was this period of time.

Furthermore, this bronze token was a spiritual tool- other than the blood essence inside it, the greatest use was that it could substitute for a life. This spiritual tool was similar to a substitution puppet, and at the time of certain death, it would be capable of shifting its owner’s destiny, and ward death off once in place of its owner.

Holding onto the bronze token, Bai Li Shu turned his head over, and leaned towards the wall.

He lightly sighed, with his expression seeming to have relaxed a bit, yet seeming to have not.

◈◈◈
Under the Jiu Xuan branch disciple’s guidance, Lou Shi Dao walked towards the main hall of the Jiu Xuan branch sect.

On the first day he took up the post of Yan Men Prefecture’s executive, he came here, but the first time, he did not succeed in seeing Jiu Xuan branch’s elder. The reason that the guarding disciple gave was, “Elder is in isolation, come here again later.”

After a single “later”, he had waited up to three months.

Lou Shi Dao understood that this was connected to Yan Men Prefecture’s influential clans. He was the present Chen dynasty’s only official with a commoner background, and furthermore was not like previous scholars who received posts after the imperial exam that were just some unimportant vain posts. The Yan Men prefectural executive was a genuine and solid fourth-rank official post, so he was already an important official with genuine power.

For the prominent families who monopolized the government official positions for close to several hundred years, this was no different from a provocation.

The prominent families had a lot of authority, and the prominent families would mostly send their very gifted members to the Eight Immortal Sects to seek apprenticeship and learn the arts, and these members, big or small, would have a certain status inside the sects. The prominent families would then obtain a degree of support from the sects, and thus gain even more power. And the reason why the sects could outrageously and brazenly take in disciples on the dynasties’ lands, was inseparable from these prominent families.

When he took up the post of Yan Men Prefecture’s executive, it was apparent he had infuriated the local influential clans.

And the ill-willed signal that the Yan Men influential clans put out, was making him unable to see the Jiu Xuan branch elder even with several times of asking for an audience.

As Lou Shi Dao walked up along the limestone path, the Jiu Xuan branch disciples coming towards him saw this person who had Yan Men Prefecture’s largest influence by name, yet they did not even have any reaction at all. To immortal cultivators, mortals and them were not of the same world—— even if immortal cultivators ate ling zhi that the secular realm’s mortals grew, and wore the fabrics that normal people weaved.

Truly, an arrogance that seeped out from the bones.        Lou Shi Dao thought, and already arrived at Jiu Xuan branch’s main hall.

Just as he entered, the Jiu Xuan branch disciple who guided him coldly the entire way suddenly excitedly cried out in a low voice, “Ah, it’s the main sect’s seniors. They actually came out today?” [1] 妙⼿回春/回春⼿- in more literal terms, a person able to rejuvenate others. To describe how great the skills the doctor possesses.

[2] 饕餮- either in reference to one of the four mythical evil creatures, and by extension, describes a ferocious and cruel person, or a particularly gluttonous, voracious eater (if the characters themselves were not enough indication with so much food (⾷))

Chapter 52

Chapter Fifty-Two, Gradually Getting Old, Drawing Swords Within Snow. (垂垂⽼矣, 雪中拔⼑)
Jiu Xuan Sect’s main sect was located between Jin Tang dynasty and Chen dynasty, in the Dong Yong Province where the Fen River’s main river and its extended branches crossed. The Jiu Xuan Sect separately in Chen and Jin Tang dynasties were only its branch sects.

Typically, when Jiu Xuan’s main sect disciples go out to carry out assignments, they would stay in the branches, and so it was not considered to be any rare occasion. But what could make the branch disciples excited like this should be the Jiu Xuan main sect’s core disciples. Before, a city servant reported that there was an immortal cultivator’s Black-Plumed Light Vessel that descended here, and those who were capable of using the Black-Plumed Light Vessel in the entire immortal cultivation realm, were only that group of people.

Each sect’s elders, and the sect’s core disciples.

Even in the immortal cultivation world, they were extremely respected and honoured group of people.

That group of Jiu Xuan Sect disciples walking out along the stone path was a group numbering three. To the left walking by themselves was one wearing a sky-blue long robe with cloud patterns on the sleeves, with their hands holding a folding fan, and an appearance of an amorous young lord. On the right, two people walked side by side, one with a messy look, and a blade of grass held in their mouth, and the other with a solemn face while holding a longsword.

Lou Shi Dao heard the Jiu Xuan branch disciples in front of him let out a small sigh.

“Aye, Eldest Brother’s not there.” In their voice was an unspeakable pity.

The reporting disciple in front of the branch’s main hall heard what he said, and also let out a sigh. This time, those senior brothers and sisters who came from the main sect were all Jiu Xuan Sect’s celebrities, but the most good-looking was still that Senior Bai Li. Only, from the time the seniors from the main sect arrived until now, they only managed to see that person once.

On the contrary, they saw Senior Qin holding a wine flask all day the most.

—— To tell the truth, when one saw Senior Qin’s improper and non-serious appearance, their yearning towards the main sect almost shattered.

Thankfully, there was still Senior Bai Li. They wouldn’t mention anything else, but just to see Senior Bai Li, they would properly cultivate, and work hard to become Jiu Xuan’s main sect’s formal disciples.

The few Jiu Xuan main sect disciples who were out to relieve their boredom in the middle of recovering very quickly disappeared from their sights, and Lou Shi Dao also withdrew his gaze, then slightly pondered over it. Senior Bai Li, that eldest disciple brother of Jiu Xuan Sect…… Jiu Xuan Sect had sent out the sect’s eldest disciple brother who was the next sect leader candidate here.

As expected of the immortal sects’ number one sect with a long lineage. So Jiu Xuan Sect already discovered something this fast, huh.
Lou Shi Dao’s thoughts flashed by one after another, yet his face did not reveal it one bit. He was lead into the main hall of the Jiu Xuan branch, and saw Yan Men Jiu Xuan’s elder-in-charge. This was Lou Shi Dao’s third time seeing Jiu Xuan branch’s elder-in-charge, yet throughout the entire time, he had no way of estimating this person’s age. The other person had a fair and clear face, and their eyes were narrow and long- it was the appearance of a young person, but their gaze was so deep it was unable to be seen through.

In the immortal cultivation realm, this was not something worth being surprised about.

It was hard to tell the age from the outer appearance of people who cultivate in immortality. A fellow who looks to be a ten year-old child could also already be over a hundred years old, even more so for an elder of an enormous sect such as Jiu Xuan Sect—— even if the other person was only a single elder of Jiu Xuan’s branch sect.

However, Lou Shi Dao would always have a bit of wariness towards this Jiu Xuan branch sect elder-in-charge. When they met for the second time, he saw the other person kill a silk-clothed disciple from Yan Men’s prestigious family, the Chen clan, without a change in expression, yet the people from Chen clan did not dare to say even a single word. This person did not seem like someone who could be influenced by the prestigious families’ wealth and power.

In the beginning when he was unable to seek an audience with the other person, other than the influential clans at the back adding fuel to flame, there was probably also the other person’s own considerations.

Yan Men was an important place, so it was said. Would the Jiu Xuan elders who were stationed here for several hundred years really have no clue regarding some things?

Lou Shi Dao felt like he couldn’t see it being so.

Sure enough, Yan Zi Yu was still that jerk of a bastard who gave him many troubles like in the beginning within the imperial college, giving him a troublesome task that was so hard to act on. Or perhaps it should be said, that bastard who acted with defiance[1] in the imperial college, on the grand and magnificent peak of the country’s authority, did not live that leisurely and wilfully as the rumours would indicate.

To think for that bastard, the only person he could entrust an important position to in the end was only him, “Honest Lou”, who would butt heads with the teachers every day.

“Looks like Executive Lou has come for something today.”

The elder-in-charge waiting inside the main hall wore a deep-black long robe. On the robe, “black clouds” symbolizing the Jiu Xuan Sect were embroidered on the collar and cuffs.

This elder-in-charge of the Jiu Xuan branch looked not to have the stateliness as a superior being, as their face was fair and clear. They looked refined and polite, not like an elder who commanded an entire Yan Men Prefecture’s branch, nor was he like an immortal cultivator that was pursuing long life and righteousness.

He looked much more like a graceful scholar than Lou Shi Dao.

And yet his surname was Xie, first name Yi[2], and had already been guarding this place for nearly one hundred years.

“Elder Xie’s prowess is not something that an ordinary and mortal person like me could imagine.” Lou Shi Dao courteously laughed, “I don’t know why, but last night, the south part of Yan Men’s city suddenly had an earthquake. The mountain ranges all collapsed, falling rocks filled all around, and at this time, the farmers’ corpses outside the outer walls have not been all cleared yet.”

Xie Yi smiled, “Has Executive Lou come here to ask about this matter? Something like the heavens and earth’s unusual movements, if it has not reached the level of an almighty being’s realm, even an immortal cultivator cannot forecast it.” As Xie Yi said this, he paused, and then, this branch elder that seemed to only be a polite youth on the surface slightly narrowed his eyes.

“However, from how the immortal-cultivating people see it, matters of the heavens and earth’s abnormal changes would always have a corresponding reason. Jiu Xuan Sect is not very acquainted with the mortal realm’s matters, but I heard that the Chen dynasty’s current emperor seems not to be the disease-fallen Light Emperor’s eldest son…… Does Executive Lou also feel like this Yan Men Prefecture’s earthquake is telling of something?”

“Elder Xie must be joking.” Lou Shi Dao was slightly surprised inside, but his face continued to have an appropriate smile.

“A matter like predicting the heavens and earth, is not something that a mortal body like this certain Lou is able to so easily make irresponsible remarks on. The reason why I’ve come this time is to earnestly request for the respected sect’s pardon.”

“Executive Lou is too modest, just speak whatever is on your mind.” Xie Yi acted like he did not hear out the foreshadowing that Lou Shi
Dao mentioned before.

Old fox. Lou Shi Dao cursed out inside.

“To tell the truth, in the earthquake last night, the fields in the southern area of the prefecture outside of Yan Men City has been submerged due to the falling rocks and mudslide, and the ling zhi that was originally going to be given to the respected sect has been destroyed. This certain Lou has come this time to request for the respected sect’s exception, to see if you are able to lessen the amount of tribute from Yan Men Prefecture this year.”      Lou Shi Dao cursing inside was only limited to that. The courtesy in his mouth remained watertight.

A troubled look appeared on Xie Yi’s face.

“It looks like Executive Lou does not know of Yan Men Prefecture’s circumstances when you first came here.” Lou Shi Dao slightly knitted his eyebrows.

“Every winter, a wave of beasts from Huang Ling would attack the southern parts of the city. Without the support of this ling zhi, Executive Lou do you plan on letting the citizens of Yan Men Prefecture go up the castle gates against the beast wave themselves? Even if my Jiu Xuan disciples are all elites, they cannot go against the wave of beasts under the circumstances of no support.” Xie Yi said this, and slowly smiled, “If Executive Lou is worried about the matter of the fields being destroyed, then this lowly one can point a path for you.”

Xie Yi said polite and appropriate words, but his tone did not have a single bit of leeway for discussion.

Lou Shi Dao was this Yan Men Prefecture’s executive- in name, he was the person with the highest authority in Yan Men Prefecture, but at present with Xie Yi not leaving any leeway and rejecting his request, he could only narrow his eyes, and ask what kind of road it was.

Xie Yi smiled.

“Though the fields in Yan Men Prefecture’s south area was affected, the big stretch of flat fields in the north part of the city did not get affected at all.” He slowly said this, as though randomly giving out an unimportant suggestion, and did not know how much of a big wave it would create at all if these words of his were to fall on another person’s ears.

In the northern region of Yan Men city, were flat lands of alluvium from the openings of a ravine. That was land monopolized by the generations of Yan Men’s influential clans, and the meaning behind Xie Yi’s words today was to let him go find Yan Men’s influential clans, and let the influential clans give this portion of tribute.

What did Xie Yi mean by this? Was there some dispute between Jiu Xuan’s branch and the influential clans? Lou Shi Dao very quickly recalled the scene he saw of Xie Yi cutting down the Chen clan’s member, and several guesses instantly flew by. However, he did not display any of these speculations on his face.

On the surface, he seemed just like an ordinary official that was unwilling inside yet couldn’t not submit, and sadly thanked for Xie Yi’s good will in a low voice filled with a bit of anger and depression.

When Xie Yi saw Lou Shi Dao’s figure leaving, he let out a long sigh. He looked to be very young, but when he sighed, he seemed like an old person long experienced with the seas and mulberry fields.

“The later generations are quite frightful, even the Chen dynasty that couldn’t amount to anything in the beginning appeared with a not-so-simple young person.” Xie Yi sighed, and turned his head towards the back of the main hall, “Just like when Senior Brother brought you back to Jiu Xuan Sect, I too did not think that you could actually come to this point.”

“Uncle has overpraised.”

A person came out from the back of the main hall.

That person was extremely thin, and was no other than the eldest disciple brother, Bai Li Shu, that the Jiu Xuan branch disciples lamented how they could not see. If Lou Shi Dao was still here, he would definitely be shocked by the title he called Xie Yi, uncle. And the name that Xie Yi called Bai Li Shu’s master, Yi He Ping, was not sect leader, but was senior brother.

This person who looked to be an ordinary Yan Men elder-in-charge was actually the current Jiu Xuan Sect sect leader’s junior.

“When I look at you, I would feel like I’m already old.” Xie Yi said, “If Senior Brother were to hear me say this, he would definitely not believe it. To think that his youngest disciple brother, who in the beginning was a fellow who would get in a fight with that flock of women from He Huan Sect just for a beauty face pill, could actually feel like he has gotten old.”

Bai Li Shu quietly listened to Xie Yi speak, and did not make comments about the past between him and his senior. “This executive named Lou is not a simple person, nor is the current Chen dynasty’s new emperor a simple character. It has been many years, not only the Chen dynasty, but even the prestigious clans and families have already forgotten the graces that the sect has given them. Unfortunately, I’m already old, so old that I cannot draw my sword in the snow and walk for a thousand miles like I did back in the beginning.”

Xie Yi sighed.

He certainly has gotten old.

Lou Shi Dao was not a immortal cultivator, and thus could only see that Xie Yi’s face seemed like a young person in their early-twenties, but not perceive Xie Yi’s aura. In Bai Li Shu’s perception, Xie Yi’s spirit seemed like a candle about to be burned out, and had already reached its end.

This originally should not have happened. With Xie Yi’s cultivation, his life span was definitely not just limited to this many years.

But that kind of dead wood-like feeling was certainly seeping out from Xie Yi’s spirit, and when he did not try to conceal it, it was particularly distinct.
“Uncle.”     Bai Li Shu opened his mouth and lowly called out. “With Yan Men’s Heaven tears, Bing Province’s tower mishap, that
net is already about to fall down. The bloodied winds and rain destined in this era are about to come down.” Xie Yi looked towards Bai Li Shu, with his gaze suddenly turning sharp.

He said he was someone gradually getting old, and said that he could not draw his sword, but at this moment, he gaze was distinctly even more sharper than the edge of a sword.

“I could never understand Elder Brother’s decisions, but he has never been wrong. I’m not like that old Qin fellow, unable to accept many changes. What comes next, should be handed over to you later generations.”   As Xie Yi slowly said this, he looked at Bai Li Shu, as though wanting to clearly take a look at this nephew that he only saw a few times.

“I only want to ask you one question.”       Xie Yi’s gaze made Bai Li Shu recall the old doctor who once persuaded him to clear his heart and be moved by nothing, and how at the same time time took away a person’s vigour, it would bring them other things.
Bai Li Shu was silent for very long. He looked outside the hall. Outside the hall, the Jiu Xuan branch disciples were free-spirited,
filled with recklessness.

He withdrew his gaze, and lowered his eyes. “Please, go ahead.”
[1] ⽆法⽆天- no respect for the law or the heavens. Running rampant.
[2] 叶羿- 叶 is either read as ye, for leaf, or leaf-like thing, or xie, for being harmonious, to assist, or to be together. Yi, for wing, archery master, or used in reference to a king.

Chapter 53

Chapter Fifty-Three, the Light Vessel Ten Thousand Miles Out, and Lone Fleabane’s Long Expedition. (轻⾈万⾥, 孤蓬远征)
Bai Li Shu already left.

Xie Yi stood inside the empty and deserted big hall, and quietly looked in the direction Bai Li Shu left in. He has certainly gotten old, to think that he could not even see through a twenty year-old youth right now.

In contrast to the later generation turning frightful, should be those of the older generation gradually turning old.

Xie Yi lowered his head and extended his hand out. His hand was always hidden inside his sleeve, never revealed in front of people.

That was a pair of hands completely different from his face- a pair of wrinkle-filled, wrinkly-skinned hands. It was certainly a pair of old person’s hands old to the point it could not get any older. An immortal cultivator’s features could be maintained at the time of their youth for a very long time, let alone for Xie Yi who once could fight He Huan Sect for the beauty face pill.

But that was certainly an old person’s pair of hands. Aged. Emaciated.
Xie Yi lowered his eyes to look at his own hands. He had guarded this place for a very long time- guarded until his life span was soon to reach an end, guarded until he was on the verge of stepping on to that Tai Shang Sect’s group of people’s footsteps. Bai Li Shu who came this time helped him resolve a portion, however, as long as there was one day Jiu Xuan’s branch sect was still standing on Yan Men Prefecture’s soils, then he could not leave this place a single day, and had to continue guarding for another day.

“I really want to go back.” Xie Yi lifted his head up and looked towards the southwest, and said in a light voice.

In the southwest, was the place where Jiu Xuan’s main sect was.

When Lou Shi Dao got onto the carriage, he raised his head to once again look towards the direction of the Jiu Xuan branch, with his face sunk like water. After a moment, he lifted open the carriage window, and a trumpet bird flew down from the sky, flapped its wings, and stopped on the wooden carriage window. This inconspicuous trumpet bird extended its claws, with a small scroll of paper tied on it.

Lou Shi Dao took down the piece of paper, opened it up, and very quickly skimmed through the dense small words on it.

“Huang Ling’s soldiers go south, the beast wave will be driven out due to it, the capital’s Su clan has strange movements……”

After remembering all of the information on the scroll of paper, Lou Shi Dao destroyed that thin strip of paper.

He took out the already prepared paper strip and tied it to the trumpet bird’s foot, then raised his hand, and the trumpet bird opened up its wings and flew towards the sky. This spirit of the clouds was too often seen around. They were found everywhere in the thousand zhang-high skies around the vast lands of the twelve dynasties, and only when they were tired, would they then fly towards the ground to rest.

Pretty much all the trumpet birds were of one appearance, with grey-white feathers, and crimson red feet. However, Lou Shi Dao recognized this one. When he and Yan Zi Yu were still in the imperial college, every time they were punished to stand, there would be a trumpet bird descended onto the spirit pagoda tree in the courtyard. The colour of its plume would be more darker, and its leg had a wound on it.

Lou Shi Dao watched the trumpet bird’s figure disappear into the
sky.

No one raise any suspicion towards trumpet birds, because everyone
knew, this was a kind of bird that would not serve the people.

The trumpet bird carrying the scroll of paper disappeared, and Lou Shi Dao seemed to have finally be free of a worry, and let out a very long sigh, then leaned against the carriage.

This was an era where the sky and sun would be covered by the clouds, and was also the era where hidden waves raged turbulently. The sect, the new emperor, influential clans, Huang Ling dynasty…… Just how many more figures would appear in this time period’s stage?

Lou Shi Dao thought back to those Jiu Xuan Sect core disciples of extraordinary imposition who he saw by coincidence.

◈◈◈
Bai Li Shu said they would go to Bing Province three days later, and within these three days, he really was determined not to see anyone.

After Jun Wan Bai and Li Xin did not obtain any results from the several times they went to knock on Bai Li Shu’s door, they could only give up, and quietly wait for the three days to go by. That day, when Li Xin put a sword to Ye Qiu Sheng’s neck, he “supplied” many things that looked to be of relevance.

Ye Qiu Sheng said that the bronze prison in the underground and the era of Ten Thousand Immortal’s severance were related. However, he pulled out heaps and heaps of literary quotations from all over the country[1], and had Li Xin and Jun Wan Bai go round and round in a daze. When one listened, it seemed to be about that one thing, but after thinking about it, they discovered this brat actually did not say a single word about the core things at all.

For example, why would he know there was a secret underneath Yan Men’s Spirit Star temple, where the origins of this Yan Men Prefecture’s secular realm Spirit Star temple came from, and what exactly was that plate that he took out……

All these crucial points, Ye Qiu Sheng did not mention even a single word about it from beginning to the end.

By the time Jun Wan Bai recovered from that heap of quotations and legends, she boiled with anger. When she took up her pair of swords to go find this fake scholar Ye Qiu Sheng to settle scores, Ye Qiu Sheng long already put down a barrier as a fake excuse to recover, when in truth, he was being a turtle that retracted its head in the shell[2].

Jun Wan Bai was angry, but she had no way about it, and could only wait until three days later.

On the third day, Jun Wan Bai who was practising her sword suddenly heard a sound like a giant mill turning from a clear and bright sky. In a startle, she recalled what Bai Li Shu said that night, “to rain without clouds, is called Heaven’s tears”. And corresponding to the Heaven’s tears was “to sound without shape, is called the demonic beat”.

When she recalled this point, Jun Wan Bai did not care for anything else, and directly rushed out from inside her room, then raised her head to look towards the sky.

In the sky, there was not a cloud tens of thousands of miles out, yet the sound of thunder continuously rumbled on.

Suddenly, Jun Wan Bai’s gaze was drawn in by an area of the sky
—— a line of blue-green light rushed up to the sky from the northeast direction. That blue-green light looked not to be too far from them, and came from the direction of Bing Province’s Qing Ming tower. Qing Ming tower, really had a mishap.

“Everyone, move out immediately.” Bai Li Shu’s voice distinctly transmitted to the ears of each of the main sect’s disciples, not allowing for interference.

Jun Wan Bai turned her head and looked towards Bai Li Shu’s room. That person already stood in front of the door, and was just like her, raising his head looking towards the sky. Bai Li Shu looked to be just about the same as before, dressed in white without being covered in a speck of dust. Back when she saw his clothes dyed with blood in the underground prison was probably Bai Li Shu’s most dishevelled moment that Jun Wan Bai had ever seen.

Sensing Jun Wan Bai’s gaze, Bai Li Shu turned his head and looked
over.

Jun Wan Bai wanted to go and ask about many things, but after she
saw that pair of calm and cold eyes, she lost the anger to interrogate in an instant again. She pursed her lips, held her swords up and flew out, then stood by Bai Li Shu’s side.

In a short moments time, the disciples Jiu Xuan Sect sent out all gathered.

They already knew that this time, they needed to go to the Qing Ming tower that appeared with a mishap. In the beginning, they were only being sent to attend the Medicine Valley’s valley master’s birthday celebration, and definitely had no risk to their lives. However, at present, they suddenly needed to face the Qing Ming tower that had a mishap. No one would feel that this was some calm and peaceful mission.
The faces of quite a few people already let out a nervous look. However, they all tightly gripped their own weapons, and under Bai
Li Shu’s command, gathered without a single complaint. Even Ye Qiu Sheng who shrunk into his own room also came out. Bai Li Shu swept a look all around. After confirming everyone was here, he waved his sleeve, and the Black-Plumed Light Vessel he previously turned over to Xie Yi to let the Jiu Xuan branch fix appeared in mid-air.

“Go.”

The Black-Plumed Light Vessel went up with a whirl, carrying Jiu Xuan’s disciples as well as Ye Qiu Sheng, and turned into a stream of light flying towards Bing Province’s Qing Ming tower with blue-green light rising up.

Within Jiu Xuan’s branch sect, Xie Yi stood on the rooftop with hands behind his back, sending off the Black-Plumed Light Vessel journeying to the north with his eyes.

[1] 天南海北- also referred to as rambling.
[2] 缩头乌⻳ simply, a coward.

Chapter 54

Chapter Fifty-Four, Eighteen Clans of Old, City of No Sound. ( 古⽒⼗
⼋, ⽆声之城)
Bing Province’s main city was a big city seldom seen in Chen dynasty’s west region. In front of it was Yan Men Prefecture acting as a natural barrier, blocking the beast wave coming south from the northwest region of Huang Ling dynasty in the winters, and it was also located downstream of the Yanwaters[1]. The big river that flowed out from the high mountain ranges slowed down here, and the sandstone would sink, and in the end, form fertile open fields. Before Old Chen perished, the civilians of Bing Province’s prefectures would be here reclaiming the lands, ploughing and weeding them. Before the previous emperor died, he had a large irrigation works constructed here called the big “Ying Gong[2]”.

“Ying” was originally a divine dragon in the legends with wings that could fly. During the era of Chaos, because the Cang Emperor who occupied the east region of the mainland felt that the waters on the land wildly flooded up over and over again so abnormally, he ordered the Ying dragon to divide up the waterways.

The Ying dragon flew over the vast lands, and in the places its tail drew over, the river water would rush along where it left its marks, and this was what was known later as the riverways.

Chen dynasty’s previous emperor naming the irrigation project above the Yan waters as “Ying Gong” had the meaning of getting the divine dragon to separate the waters, in hopes that the Yan waters were able to flow into the riverways and not submerge the farmlands on its piers. “Ying Gong” was split into three portions, with one connected to the Yan water’s main channel, the second distributed to the irrigation channel between the farmlands, and the third portion at the spirit tower where the water openings joined together.

Normally, the riverways would draw out the channels from the main vein, and flow into the farmlands through the distributed irrigation channels, watering the crops. During high-water seasons, after the river water rose up and sunk the “even waterline” that the previous emperor drew in, it would go through the water openings, and be drawn into the reserve riverways that were not usually used, and head to the water reservoir beads in the spirit tower in the end. Then, the flow of the water would be used to bear and produce spiritual tools with water attributes.

Chen dynasty’s previous emperor, Emperor Chen Ying[3] who fell to illness certainly was a wise king with good governance.

But unfortunately, his careful planning and far-thinking did not receive his subjects’ understanding. The engineering of “Ying Gong” that was favourable for the civilians started to be built in the last three years of Emperor’s Chen Ying reign, however, after he died of disease, this project was stopped, and was only completed halfway at present.

Bai Li Shu stood on the deck of the Black-Plumed Light Vessel, and looked down from the high skies while propped over the railing. Looking at it from the sky, the “Ying Gong” on the ground was certainly like a divine dragon with a fishtail, but due to the suspension of the project, this divine dragon only had a body but no head.

“I must truly have a destiny with Lord Bai Li, to be able to encounter Lord Bai Li while secretly coming out for a break for once.”

The sound of Ye Qiu Sheng’s slightly flippant voice resounded from behind. His exterior wounds were pretty much recovered, and the blood essence that was drained for a while also recovered, though not to its fullest. He walked to the front of the railings, and looked in the direction where Bai Li Shu was staring at. By looking down, he could also see the “Ying Gong” that could not be fully completed. “The secular realm’s strength sometimes really is praise-worthy.” Ye Qiu Sheng looked at that “dragon” that was not completed, and lamented, “Emperor Chen Ying was particularly well-versed with the Nine sky’s stars, no different from immortal cultivators who studied it for several hundred years. This “Ying Gong’s” network was pretty much all completed by himself. That year when Emperor Chen Ying was born, it was said that there was Bai Ni[4] passing through the skies. The imperial family of the Chen dynasty believed that it was a sign of prosperity, and thus had him chosen to be the crown prince from the beginning. However, it was a pity he died early. He wasn’t able to be like how the dynasty’s imperial family hoped for him to be, to take up the imperial family’s prestige.”

As he said this, Ye Qiu Sheng watched Bai Li Shu who did not have much of an expression.

To tell what this person was exactly thinking was truthfully a very hard matter. The things the other party knew were too much, yet the changes to their face were very small, so Ye Qiu Sheng could only guess using his own intuition.

“However, thinking about it, Emperor Chen Ying dying this early should not be a bad thing for your Jiu Xuan Sect, right?” Ye Qiu Sheng tried to look for some reaction from Bai Li Shu’s face, but failed as expected.

The other person’s features were cold and calm, like a normal immortal cultivator, not caring for a mortal realm’s emperor’s life or death at all.

However, if these things really were not within the other person’s eyes, how would Bai Li Shu appear in the Spirit Star temple’s underground, and why would he look down at that incomplete “Ying Gong” irrigation project like now.

Only a very small, small amount of people knew- “Ying Gong” was a project that was destined to not be finished from the very start. No matter if it was Jiu Xuan Sect or Tai Shang Sect, they would not let it be complete, and would not let this “dragon” appear on the vast lands of the Chen dynasty. Mountain terrain and water veins had a very mysterious relationship with the heavens and earth to begin with, and many seemingly careless changes were capable of drawing in very big casualties.

The ambitious Emperor Chen Ying was unwilling to be restrained by the sects for his entire life, and thus on the surface, he was building a project for irrigation, but in truth was secretly changing the world’s mountain terrain and water vein’s flow—— the so-called “Ying Gong” was an evil dragon with hostility towards the sects.

Those words of Emperor Chen Ying coincidentally catching a cold and falling to the illness, were only a lie towards the outside.

At least, as Ye Qiu Sheng understood it, one month before Emperor Chen Ying died of disease, three Jiu Xuan Sect elders quietly left Jiu Xuan Sect and arrived at Chen dynasty’s capital.

It was not like there weren’t any immortal cultivators loyal to the emperor in the Chen dynasty, but in front of the Eight Immortal Sects, the dynasty’s power was not something worth being mentioned. Thus, Emperor Chen Ying who was in prime years died this obscurely, without raising other people’s attentions. After his death, “Ying Gong” was naturally also stopped.

Thus, although Bing Province’s city was western Chen dynasty’s most bustling city, today, these civilians here would still be anxiously on the lookout for the Yan water’s high and low changes.

Ye Qiu Sheng thought, these things that weren’t so bright shouldn’t be discussed on the table, as it was not considered to be some light subject, yet his face still had the expression of a frivolous and dissolute scholar.

Bai Li Shu watched the project that once constructed would have originally brought fortune to the many commoners, and did not directly answer Ye Qiu Sheng’s question, but instead asked, “Tai Shang Sect has sent you to investigate outside for so many years, has it not reached its end yet?”

“Lord Bai Li is not some simple person as expected.” Ye Qiu Sheng leaned against the railing. He wasn’t surprised that Bai Li Shu could see that there was another motive to him running across the twelve dynasties for this many years, “Right now, I think it can be considered that I understand what it means to “not judge a person by their face”. Who knew that the Lord Bai Li who looks like a immortal from beyond Heaven could know so much about the things in the dark.”

A deeper meaning was held in Ye Qiu Sheng’s words. Bai Li Shu looked at this Tai Shang Sect scholar who would always drop his book bag and talk about a few literary quotations at any time, and did not say anything.

Without obtaining Bai Li Shu’s response, Ye Qiu Sheng lifted his head and looked towards the sky’s flowing clouds, and continued speaking without another care, “The weapon-smith of that Golden Crow bow in your hands is called Yi Cang[5]. He is a descendant of the ancient clans of the old surnames, and like those old clans, when creating spiritual tools, what they valued most was a bloodline. The top-class spirituals weapons they create can only be used by the clan’s members. So……”

Ye Qiu Sheng turned his head, and looked towards Bai Li Shu, with his expression a very seldom grave and serious look.

“Which branch of the Eighteen Clans are you?” Bai Li Shu finally raised his eyes.
On the Black-Plumed Light Vessel, the winds were fierce, and the sleeves of the people who stood within the wind fluttered around. After those words left Ye Qiu Sheng, there seemed to be a secret flow of turbulence between them. The sound of the sleeves fluttering about were like swords hidden in the dark, with cold and frosty killing intent. After having said so many words since the beginning, with that many probes, what Ye Qiu Sheng really wanted to ask was actually this final question.

After thinking about, Ye Qiu Sheng only reached this conclusion.

If Bai Li Shu was really someone from the old eighteen family clans, then as for why Jiu Xuan’s sect leader would immediately take him in as a disciple, why he would have the Golden Crow modelled after the Setting Sun bow in his hands, and why he would so clearly know about the things beneath the Spirit Star temple would be then understood.

And then, under Ye Qiu Sheng’s sharp gaze, Bai Li Shu calmly opened his mouth,

“None of them.” His tone was calm, with not even a sliver of change to his expression.

After Ye Qiu Sheng looked at him for a long time, the corners of his mouth raised up, and once again revealed that frivolous and unrestrained smile, “Aye, fine, fine. Which family Lord Bai Li is part of doesn’t matter to me, I only felt that if I wanted to pursue Lord Bai Li, then I must do some homework either way. As for the remaining things, it’s not something that a person who just wants to get by should be interfering in.”

Bai Li Shu did not express any opinions towards Ye Qiu Sheng’s
words.

—— He was Dong Ling’s Bai Li. He was naturally not a person
from some Eighteen Clans.

During the conversation, the Black-Plumed Light Vessel already approached closer and closer to Bing Province City.

In their line of sight, a tower that came up from the ground and seemed to directly touch the sky(qing ming) could faintly be seen. The people on the boat all felt a wave of shapeless force opposing the Black- Plumed Light Vessel’s approach. Outside Bing Province City, the skies seemed to be flooded with a wave of shapeless strength. When the flying vessel flew here, it was just like a boat in water sinking into a marsh.

In the end, the Black-Plumed Light Vessel completely stopped in
midair.

ly when they encountered the fog raptor, this kind of similar
situation appeared with the Black-Plumed Light Vessel too. Jiu Xuan Sect’s disciples were already used to it, and did not be all that surprised. Each and every one of them were taking advantage of the last moments to cultivate a bit more, or strengthen themselves and their own spiritual weapons’ relationship.

Bai Li Shu steered the Black-Plumed Light Vessel to go back a fair distance, and descended the flying vessel at a place that was less affected by that force.

The flying vessel touched ground, and when the Jiu Xuan disciples just came out from the Black-Plumed Light Vessel, they discovered there was something amiss. Within the Vessel, due to the presence of the flying vessel’s own barrier, the perception towards the outside world was not considered to be very clear, but now that they came out from the Black- Plumed Light Vessel, standing outside Bing Province City, everyone immediately felt there was an abnormality.

—— The atmosphere was sprung with a wave of a rampant, chaotic
energy.

At a place not far from them, the Bing Province City was a stretch
of deathly silence, so quiet it was out of place.

Just like…… Just like the entire city suddenly lost its sound.

The Jiu Xuan disciples all looked to each other, apparent that they could not imagine what kind of mishap the Qing Ming tower would have to create this kind of scene. However, for a long period of time before this, there was never a mishap at the Qing Ming towers, and thus, the records that the immortal cultivation realm had regarding the accidents in the Qing Ming tower were few and far in between.

“Bai Li Shu.”      Jun Wan Bai knitted her eyebrows and looked at the giant city not far away, then looked towards Bai Li Shu, and asked for his opinion.

Though the core disciples other than Jun Wan Bai did not say anything, they were also waiting for Bai Li Shu’s instructions. Qin Jiu had his wine flask raised, but at this time, he did not sway it. Chu Zhi Yuan held his Fu Su sword with a solemn expression, whereas He Zhou bore a look like the entire world owed him money and so was in a bad mood with everyone. Shen Chang Ge stood in a place not far from Bai Li Shu with his fan closed, while Li Xin looked to be more gloomy and cold than usual.

As for Ye Qiu Sheng this Tai Shang Sect disciple who joined in halfway, all the core disciples just directly ignored him.

Ye Qiu Sheng rubbed his nose, wanting to oppose their differential treatment.

Li Xin’s longsword slightly came out of its sheath, and Ye Qiu Sheng shut his mouth.

Bai Li Shu raised his head. No matter at which city, the Qing Ming tower would be that area’s tallest building. At this time when they stood outside the city gates and raised their head to look, they could faintly see the tip of the Qing Ming tower. That blue-green light they saw before they departed already disappeared, the skies were filled with thick, gloomy and sunken black clouds, and the entire Bing Province was being covered in the shadows.

Particularly ominous.

When everyone was taking a look at Bing Province City, a bunch of glaring flares raised up from within the city, and directly soared into the layer of clouds. “Dammit!” Shen Chang Ge’s face changed, “That’s a Jiu Xuan disciple’s distress call.”

After the method Guan Ling proposed to connect the Qing Ming towers succeeded, Qing Ming tower no longer needed to again rely on the almighty beings to operate, however, a magic formation tower as important as a Qing Ming tower still needed to have people dispatched to take guard. Those who guarded the tower were typically the sects’ elders, and other that them, there would also be many sect disciples assisting with the operation of the Qing Ming tower’s magic formation.

Bing Province’s Qing Ming tower was under Jiu Xuan Sect’s responsibility.

At this time, when they saw a Jiu Xuan Sect disciple’s distress call, pretty much everyone subconsciously guessed if it was a Jiu Xuan disciple guarding the tower that met with danger.

Bai Li Shu slightly lowered his eyes, thinking of something.

At the time Li Xin was about to ask him what to do, Bai Li Shu briefly answered with a “go”, then took the lead and flew towards the city gates.

Jiu Xuan Sect’s disciples followed behind tightly. Ye Qiu Sheng paused in his original place for a moment, then went to catch up. Without a doubt, the signal was something used by Jiu Xuan Sect disciples to call for help, but could it actually be this coincidental? They just stepped foot on Bing Province City’s city gates, and it just so happened that a distress signal was let out inside the city.

Furthermore……

Ye Qiu Sheng looked at the Bing Province city gates that became more and more closer. There weren’t any guards in position at the city gates, while the city gate was half-closed, with no pedestrians coming in or out. Behind the city gates, there were no sounds coming out either. As people of immortal cultivation, their ears were sensitive, how could it be possible that they still couldn’t even hear the noise within the city when they were this close?

Too strange.

It was like this city suddenly went to sleep.

While Ye Qiu Sheng thought about this, he tightly followed Bai Li Shu and others into the city.

[1] Unsure if part of Yan river, or should translate as spreading/extending waters.

[2] 应⼯- Ying, from the Ying dragon (应⻰) as mentioned below. Gong, for labour, or work.

[3] 陈膺- ying, to bear, or to shoulder. If treated as a noun, chest.
[4] ⽩倪- literally translated as white child/young and weak, but I can’t find anything on this. Might be typo for 霓 (ni) which is defined as secondary rainbow.

[5] Not Yi Cang, the place, from a previous chp. This one is 伊苍.

Chapter 55

Chapter Fifty-Five, the Soundless City, With Heavy Footsteps. (⽆声之城, 沉重脚步)

Above their heads were black and sunken crow-black clouds, overlapping down layer by layer. The light in the sky was covered for the most part, and Bing Province City was enveloped within the dark and gloominess. After entering through the southwest city gate, they walked along the road, but did not see any figures. The entire city was quiet and peaceful, without the slightest sound.

Jiu Xuan Sect’s group of people as well as Tai Shang Sect’s Ye Qiu Sheng cautiously walked along the road.

Since they first entered the city, they did not see a single person- don’t mention people, not even a fly was seen. This odd scene as well as the layer of clouds in the sky that gave people an ominous feeling made everyone’s vigilance raised to the highest point.

From looking at the direction, the distress call from the Jiu Xuan Sect disciple Bai Li Shu and co. just saw should be sent out from a place not far from the officials’ residences. The area that Bing Province took up was several times bigger than Yan Men Prefecture. One portion of this city used the previous dynasty’s old city, and the abandoned city’s portion was later changed into the present-day Bing Province City with a half- rectangular shape.

As for why it was said to be a half-rectangular shape, was because Yan waters’ branch flow passed through the southwest corner of the city- at the beginning, the architect-in-charge integrated the water flow and heavenly bodies, and constructed according to the terrain. Thus, when looking down from a high point, one would discover that the edge of the southwest corner of Bing Province City looked like a sawtooth shape, as if it was some wild beast’s fang.

The Qing Ming tower was located in the center of Bing Province City, and with the Qing Ming tower as the epicentre, the city’s houses were orderly distributed along the axis lines from east to west and north to south. Furthermore, the officials’ residence was located in Bing Province City’s northwest area- in other words, the Jiu Xuan guarding disciple should be to their left in front.

The southwest region of Bing Province should fall into the “market” district. On their way, they saw quite many small stores opened, with items placed down, yet were without people. Qin Jiu and Chu Zhi Yuan brought a few of Jiu Xuan Sect’s Xuan Ce disciples and entered a few shops to check. Inside the shops, all was intact like normal, with no bloodstains nor corpses.

“Shit(ghosts).”

Qin Jiu held a small tree branch in his mouth, and knitted his eyebrows as he looked at a wine shop. On the table, an account book was flipped to a page, and a brush dipped with ink was put to the side, just like the shopkeeper was about to write some words, but because there was a matter at hand, they put down the brush, and thus, the person went and never came back. The wine ladle half-scooped was placed on the table, and the wine in the ladle was not missing even a single drop.

Qin Jiu drew in close to smell it, and discovered it was the the pear- blossom brew Bing Province was famed for.

Just as he extended his hand to hold it up, a sword that had not yet come out of its sheath came out from the side, and blocked his hand.

“Do proper business.” Chu Zhi Yuan looked at him with knitted eyebrows. Good or bad, he was still the chosen Jiu Xuan Sect Xuan Ce’s peak master-to-be, but that act he had all day like that Nine Provinces Private Bank bunch who only cared for money practically made people want to draw their swords on them. But the occasion wasn’t right, so Chu Zhi Yuan could only lowly say a word, and then turn around and continue to search other areas in the wine store.

Qin Jiu pitifully looked at the wine ladle.

Having money was one matter, but things that don’t need you to take out your wallet, regardless of how it’s looked at, had more temptation than things that need you to use your money on.

Quickly, the few stores were all searched, and Qin Jiu and Chu Zhi Yuan reported the results to Bai Li Shu. Other than people disappearing, everything was as usual inside the stores. There wasn’t anything missing, nor were there any unclean things coming out.

“The people are missing?”

Jun Wan Bai wrinkled her eyebrows. The hands hanging by her side were hidden in the deep-blue sleeves, then, a pair of swords’ hilts slid out and were held in her hands. She vigilantly looked around the surroundings, and was about to release her spiritual insight to undergo an search.

Bai Li Shu slightly shook his head at her, and stopped her.

“What is it?” Jun Wan Bai looked at Bai Li Shu in a surprised manner, and discovered he looked towards the direction of the Qing Ming tower, thinking about something.

“Everyone, from this point on, don’t release your spiritual insights arbitrarily.” Bai Li Shu withdrew his gaze.

Jun Wan Bai wanted to ask a few things, but Bai Li Shu already moved northwest in the direction of the official residences. Jun Wan Bai knitted her eyebrows. The Qing Ming tower having an accident, the people in the city all disappearing, no matter how you looked at it, these two things didn’t seem like they were connected together.

◈◈◈
“Fucking hell.”

In the northwest direction of Bing Province City, in a place a fair distance away from Bing Province’s administrator residence was Bing Province City’s weapons storage. A person of a slightly rounded figure that looked like a local rich man’s son, with a body all with sparkling and gold, arduously dragged another young person, and dragged him towards the big door to the weapons storage.

“Kid, you don’t look fat, how can you be this heavy?” While dragging, the chubby person gasped for breath, with his forehead full of cold sweat.

The half-sitting on the ground weakly, half-dragged young man had a harmless face that looked to be gentle and frail-looking, and was wearing a long robe with Jiu Xuan Sect Li range’s crimson-red fire symbols. When he heard the chubby person’s words, the corner of his mouth twitched, then revealed a perfectly apologetic smile, “So very sorry. After all, not all Primary Dan cultivators rely on medicinal pills to rise up, and not all Primary Dan cultivators can reach the level without training the body.”

“Fuck!”       The chubby person was so irritated by him that their face was all red. Primary Dan cultivators that properly rose up with conventional order would definitely not be like him, having to gasp for breath when dragging a person.

“I think I understand now. You Jiu Xuan Sect bastards, all are a two- faced[1] bunch, and a little pretty face[2] like you is the most two-faced of the two-faced. Are proper human words not good? Why must you guys always first step over people’s hurt feet?”

The Jiu Xuan youth smiled politely, “Thanks Brother Liao for the praise, it’s too much of a praise.” “I……”    The chubby person called Brother Liao rolled his eyes, and couldn’t be bothered to say any more.

The chubby person was called Liao Qian[3], with the same sound as “predict money”—— Predicted to have money. A name flooded with the characteristic of the Nine Provinces Private Bank, with the unconcealed and undisguised pursuit of money and wealth embodied in it. The body of sparkling gold actually consisted of various spiritual tools, but this was also typical of Nine Provinces Private Bank’s style—— why wrack what brains or brawn to fight, wouldn’t it be all over if you just use money and directly use spiritual tools to smash them dead?

Liao Qian’s cultivation was also at the Primary Dan boundary, but as the Jiu Xuan youth had said, this Primary Dan boundary of his was a Primary Dan mixed with water. Thus, when dragging the person to the entrance of Bing Province’s weapons storage, he himself was also gasping for breath, just about the same as a paralyzed person.

“Gold and jade on the outside, worn-out cotton on the inside[4].”

The Jiu Xuan youth muttered, and contemptuously looked at the chubby person who sat with his behind down. He himself stood up with a sway, and extended his hand to open the big door to Bing Province’s weapons storage. The front of the door was scattered with a few weapons, and yet the guarding soldiers were nowhere to be seen. The weapons storage door was weighed down with a heavy spirit lock, so the Jiu Xuan youth used a thread of primordial energy to probe, and simply fiddled with it for a bit.

A ka cha was heard, then the spirit lock was opened.

To the side, Liao Qian watched with cautious airs, “This skill of your Jiu Xuan Sect’s is far too dangerous. This won’t do. If I can get back from this damned place, this old man will definitely report it to the sect, and have the branch businesses’ locks all changed immediately.”

The youth originally did not have much strength left, but when he heard Liao Qian say these words, he almost fell head first. —— He started to doubt whether or not he saved an extremely unreliable thing.

On this side, the Jiu Xuan youth was reflecting on how he should have not been that kind-hearted, when that side’s Liao Qian already climbed up with a grunt, and his limbs nimbly moved inside Bing Province’s weapons storage. Starting with the closest racks, he checked if there were anything good out of habit.

The Jiu Xuan youth expressionlessly withdrew his gaze, and started to think if he were to lock the big doors of the weapons storage now, and turn to find another place to hide, just how big of a chance he had to live on.

“I say……” Liao Qian turned a circle around the rack filled with weapons, and was a bit disappointed. The weapons here were mostly low- class spiritual weapons- as a Nine Provinces Private Bank disciple, he did not take a fancy to them at all, however, he could consider transporting them to a place like the Cang Pu dynasty to sell for a high price, “Can your Jiu Xuan Sect’s people make it here?”

The Jiu Xuan youth closed the weapon storage’s big doors, and put down a magic formation randomly in front of it, then wearily sat right down.

Liao Qian on one hand muttered about how Jiu Xuan Sect was the number one of the Eight Immortal Sects, yet the disciples under their sect were all poor bastards, while starting to take off the spiritual tools from his body. Soon, the pieces of spiritual equipment were placed all over the floor.

When Liao Qian was putting down his spiritual tools while muttering on, he suddenly felt something was not right.

He’s already so clearly expressed his dislike for Jiu Xuan Sect here, so why has the kind-faced cruel-hearted brat on the side who viewed his own sect as something more important than anything else not mock him yet? When Liao Qian thought of this, he turned his head to look at the Jiu Xuan Sect’s youth.

“Hey!!” With one look, Liao Qian jumped with a start. He only saw the youth lean against the door, with his head hung down, just like he just breathed his last, “Little pretty face! Poor bastard! Don’t you fucking die!”

As he said this, he extended his hand to touch the youth’s neck. Oh, still good, still good. It’s still warm. He hasn’t died yet.
After withdrawing his hand back, Liao Qian took out a bottle of medicinal pill from his chest with a sore face, and very carefully poured out one pill, then stuffed it into the youth’s mouth while chattering away, “I say, you brat better not die at this time, otherwise, if your Jiu Xuan Sect’s seniors actually come in a bit, when they see this, wouldn’t they think that this was a murder I caused?”

Just as he was chatting away, Liao Qian suddenly heard a sound coming from outside the door.

In an instant, he shut his mouth, and stood up.

At present in this damned(ghost) Bing Province City, Liao Qian was willing to have a whole span of deadly silence, and not be willing to hear some sound. Right now, it was likely that inside Bing Province City, other than the few and far living people, the ones remaining would be those…… those things, right?

Liao Qian slowly adjusted his breathing, then extended his hand and took up a sabre from the weapon storage’s rack and gripped it in his hand.

He lowered his head to look at the unconscious Jiu Xuan youth who he didn’t know if he would die or not, and the chubby face twitched, “Poor bastard, looks like I’m going to have to hope for those senior brothers and sisters of yours to help retrieve my corpse too.” As he said this, he hauled the Jiu Xuan youth into the heap of spiritual tools, while he himself took a step out and stood in front of the weapon storage’s iron door.

The sound from outside the door seemed to come from a comparatively far distance, like heavy footsteps from something being dragged, walking step by step.

[1] 焉坏- to think of bad thoughts without saying a word or giving a sign. They do bad things, yet in front of people, they would bear the appearance of a righteous and gentlemanly look. To say they are two-faced would be the closest term, however, keep in mind that the term itself does not necessarily refer to looking like a good person while being bad on the inside. Hence why I still need to write these things down here.

[2] ⼩⽩脸- used in reference to men with handsome faces and fair skin, as opposed to more rough-looking or strong-looking men that one would be
more accustomed to attributing to men. Is also used as a term for men who live off of their partner’s money.

[3] 廖乾- Liao is just a surname, while the Qian character is the same as Heaven. Another thing to note, is that the other ‘liao’, for predicting, can also be used as ‘material’. Got the goods and the money.

[4] Like how the words suggest, the exterior looks good, but it’s all a mess inside.

Chapter 56

Chapter Fifty-Six, Night Ghosts Walk the City, Commerce Also Has Principles. (夜⿁⾏城, 商亦有道)
The sound of footsteps transmitting from a far place was sluggish and viscous, just like how a person who drowned in water climbed up the pier while dragging the aquatic plants in its trek, step by step. Along with the slowly approaching sound of its footsteps, a wave of sombre and cold air permeated inside.

Liao Qian recalled those few words from《Customary Stratagems》with some effort: “When the sky is dark, do not walk around, for the netherworld secretly connects its gates. Do not speak with a loud voice, in fear of frightening the people below the Spring.” Fuck, why didn’t that whatchamacallit stratagems say what to do if one encountered a situation where the ghost realm connected with the human realm[1]?

The sabre in Liao Qian’s hand slightly glowed, while he secretly cursed inside without pause.

Had he known that once the Qing Ming tower had an accident, it would create a situation of spacial disorder, the five elements going into chaos, and Yin and Yang being interlinked, he would definitely prepare more of those ghost exorcism and demon subjugating items. However, whatever was said now was all too late, and Liao Qian could only brace himself—— Heavens, please take pity, the Nine Provinces Private Bank’s disciples were separated into two principles, the “commerce” and “martial arts”, he was just a pure commerce disciple! When he was sending his regards to the elder who appointed him to Bing Province, the cold air already seeped through the weapon storage’s big doors.

Under Liao Qian’s watch, a humanoid figure slowly emerged from the iron door—— a night ghost. These ghost spirits that in legends were said to be filled with resentment would roam in the places covered with the ghost realm’s aura, and when they encountered the living, they would drag them into the dark netherworld. Furthermore, the night ghosts typically wandered in bunches.

It has already been a couple days since the Qing Ming tower had a mishap. Liao Qian once saw an entrance to the netherworld suddenly appear inside Bing Province City from far away. The Yu Shou Sect disciples who came here to investigate got dragged into the ghost realm, then no longer came out.

There was no regular pattern that could be said for the appearance of the underworld’s entrance, but these past few days, he had not directly encountered any large-scale ghost realms formed from spacial disturbance due to the Qing Ming tower’s abnormality.
But from the looks of it, this luck was probably going to be used up. A faint cold air was already rising from the iron door. Under Liao
Qian’s careful watch, the blue-coloured vapour had tentacle-like black aura spreading out from the crack of the door, rising all the way up. That black aura slowly rose up and swept across, like the demon vines that would dance due to sound on Pi mountain. Following that, black figures started to slowly appear one by one.

Those black figures were extremely big, half-seeming like human, while their body seemed to be draped with a black veil.

Liao Qian slowly shuddered.

The weapon storage’s iron door could not obstruct these black figures. Their bodies slowly seeped inside through the iron door! Fuck(ghosts)! The night ghosts of the legends were originally a kind of existence that condensed from resentment, so they could switch between physical and immaterial bodies.

Those figures wrapped with black fog “oozed” out from the iron door, and along with their permeation, the iron door was also completely enveloped in black aura—— this signalled that the iron door was taken into the ghost realm. Fortunately, Liao Qian had pulled the Jiu Xuan youth into the pile of spiritual tools behind him beforehand, otherwise, he would have already been swallowed into the ghost realm by the night ghosts right now.

Liao Qian took a few steps back.

The overlapping black figures “oozed” out, and slowly approached Liao Qian and the Jiu Xuan youth. When they passed through the big door, the magic formation that the Jiu Xuan youth put down behind the weapon storage’s iron door suddenly lit up, and a dazzling silver light erupted from the ground, like lightning tumbling on the ground.

An impressive and dignifying aura flooded to their front, and a bright silver light illuminated the space in front on them.

Under the silver light, those layers and layers of black figures quickly retreated back, and those few black figures in the very front were burned by the silver light, and let out a sharp howl filled with malice in a distorted manner.

Liao Qian could not help but cheer for the Jiu Xuan disciple whose name he did not know.

To think that he could put down a magic formation with such force in such a short amount of time! Even if it were those stingy bastards of Wan Zhen Sect, they were only so-so!

But Liao Qian very quickly discovered that he started cheering too early. That bright silver light only lasted briefly[2], and soon, it died out, and the interior of the weapons storage once again returned to the darkness. The sombre and cold aura returned, and the night ghosts surrounding them were only temporarily forced back a small distance.

At the instant Liao Qian was absent-minded, he suddenly felt a pain in his mind, as though he was heavily hit by something, and his vision suddenly turned hazy.

Countless low mutters and ramblings from all over poured into Liao Qian’s mind, and cold sweat from his forehead came down with a “plop”, then he half-knelt on the ground with a thud.

He suddenly remembered!

He suddenly recalled within 《 Customary Stratagems 》 , the remaining description of the night ghosts!

——“The consolidation of resentment. Those who hear its sound will return to the netherworld”.

Night ghosts would let out sounds that came from the dead and the netherworld, and the people who heard these sounds would then follow them, and get pulled into the darkness. Liao Qian was only a Primary Dan cultivator who relied on medicinal pills to get it. With an extremely water- weighted rudimentary Primary Dan boundary, his own spiritual insight was just like paper pulp.

The mutterings and ramblings of countless people buzzed inside his mind- those voices sounded fleeting and distant, carrying an indescribable ghastly coldness and seeping with a complete malice, where that malice originated from the envy and rage that the dead held towards the living. As the things in the surrounding became indistinct and hazy, and those illusory figures extended their hands out.

A frosty-cold aura like dead lake water climbed up from his arms and legs. The black aura coiled around, and the flesh it passed by froze up, and lost its ability to move. Liao Qian’s gaze started to gradually disperse, and the myriad of fleeting sombre voices in his mind called out to him.

He stood up with a sway, and the sabre in his hand fell onto the ground with a clatter.

The black figures that seemed like it had a form yet seemed formless enclosed by Liao Qian’s side. Wrapped with black fog, they extended towards him.

“Imbecile!”

Just as the night ghosts’ hands were about to capture Liao Qian, a voice resounded like passing thunder, and forcefully shook him out from the countless people’s mutterings. When his consciousness returned, the figures of the night ghosts drawing in extremely close reflected into Liao Qian’s pupils. He fearfully widened his eyes, and wanted to pick up his sabre, but was unable to move at all- the blood in the four limbs seemed like it was coagulated.

“Jiu(nine) Xuan returns to One!” A low shout came from behind, and a wave of air so warm to the point of approaching scorching erupted from the back. A semi arc-shaped wave of air flew out from his back, and forced the night ghosts gathering around to go back.

It was the Jiu Xuan disciple who was fainted just before.

He woke up at some time, and stood up with a sway. In his hand was a strange weapon, while the colour of his face was white to the point he didn’t seem like a living person.

Within the rejoice, Liao Qian directly let out a few words, “You fucker finally woke up, I’ve finally been freed of the suspicion of murdering you!”

—— Fuck! Right now, he felt like all of Jiu Xuan Sect’s people were the number one coolest in the whole world. Jiu Xuan Sect is the most strongest sect in the twelve dynasties! In truth, before this, Liao Qian always felt that the people of Jiu Xuan Sect were a bunch of madmen who were ruthless towards others and even more ruthless to themselves. Where did the Jiu Xuan portion of their sect name come from? “Nine turns around life and death and the Xuan gates[3] will open”. Dammit, nine was an infinitely large number, which is to also say, if the disciples of Jiu Xuan Sect wanted to cultivate with success, then they must constantly have themselves forced towards life and death.

The saying that Jiu Xuan Sect was nothing but geniuses and lunatics also came from this.

However, Liao Qian never felt that Jiu Xuan’s people were so ultra[4] impressive with matchless looks like this! Too damn reliable and strong! If there were any people later who dare say Jiu Xuan Sect was full of lunatics, he’ll be the first to refute it!

“Run!” The Jiu Xuan youth did not know that within the brief moment, the worship Liao Qian had towards Jiu Xuan Sect inside instantly turned like a billowing and torrential river, endlessly surging up high. He took in a crude breath, and stood swaying while shouting loudly, and the strange weapon in his hand opened up horizontally, with a look of bringing up the rear.

Liao Qian was suddenly stunned.

The Jiu Xuan youth only stood there. Other than that one word of run, they did not say anything more, and his gaze was dispersed—— this bastard actually already reached his limit, and could only forcefully maintain a standing position right now.

“What the hell?” Liao Qian’s face turned completely red, “Do I look like the type that would dump my partners and run by myself like a good- for-nothing? I ——”

“—— I would definitely be the type to carry my partners and run together!” Just as these words came out, Liao Qian took something out from somewhere, and with a mouth of blood essence spurted onto it, he flung it out. A gold-coloured light erupted, and the praises of Buddha faintly resounded in the space- that was a spiritual talisman created by a master from the Fan Yin Pavilion that Liao Qian left as a last resort before this.

When the spiritual talisman erupted, Liao Qian piggy-backed the Jiu Xuan disciple who already lost his consciousness, then turned to rush towards a window closest to them. The windows were nailed shut with refined steel, so there was no way to open them at all. With a fling of the hand, another spiritual talisman came out from Liao Qian, and blasted the window open.

He dug out from the broken hole with the youth on his back in an extreme panic, and started to desperately run like mad.

This was definitely the first time he ran the fastest in his life, yet the sombre coldness from his back could not be shaken off. While carrying a person, Liao Qian felt like he was already running very fast, but in truth, it was no different from a normal person walking a bit quickly, and the muttering of the night ghosts once again resounded in his head. Without having to turn his head, he knew that there were definitely black figures to his back again.

Liao Qian never concealed the fact that he was cowardly, and never wanted to pretend like he was some good person.

He was a complete and thorough businessman. He always felt that there wasn’t anything in this world that didn’t need to be paid for, but right now, he met with a true idiot, a real fool—— if one was not a fool, who would be willing to be so desperate, and bring up the rear for a person they did not know at all?

Were the people of Jiu Xuan Sect all a bunch of lunatics?

The other person was a lunatic, but he wasn’t. However, men at times needed to live with a bit of integrity- the other person was cutting off the rear for you, what kind of bastard would you be if you were to leave your own saviour and immediately run? Business also had its morals. Liao Qian felt that his own goal was to be like his ancestral masters, those kinds of world-renowned Confucian merchants, and not those short-sighted[5] wealthy people of the country.

However, strength fed from medicinal pills, in the end, was only strength fed from medicinal pills.

After not having ran that far off, Liao Qian suddenly felt a permeating coldness from his limbs, and with a single stumble in his step, the entire person fell forward to the ground face-first. Before he climbed up, he felt the person on his back being slowly pulled to the back. Liao Qian turned shocked, and abruptly turned his head, only to see those lingering figures of the night ghosts appearing in a place not far from here.

The pace of the night ghosts themselves was not that quick, so they did not catch up yet at this time.
What caught the Jiu Xuan youth was that vine-like black aura. “Shit! Let go!” Liao Qian angrily shouted out loud, and extended his
hand out to catch hold of the youth’s two arms, and went at it with that black aura. That round and plump, amiable and business-like face of his at this time revealed a sliver of ruthlessness to it.

But it was no use.

At the time he pulled the youth back bit by bit, those black figures in the back already caught up.

Liao Qian had never hated himself more for not having enough money like he did now, otherwise, with several tens and hundreds of Thunderstorm Azure Dragon talismans put up, would there still be these damned things?

The night ghosts’ mutters and ramblings once again came out from all around like tidal waters. Liao Qian’s pupils slowly dilated, and his gaze started to scatter away. His hands mechanically grabbed onto the youth’s arms, but they were also being engulfed by the black aura bit by bit just like himself.

It was at this time when the black figures slowly drew close, and the hands extended out from the black fog were about to touch the youth, that the sound of a sword suddenly resounded.

That was the sound of a sword being taken out of its sheath. Distinct yet cold.
The sound of the sword seemed to transmit from some far place, but also very clearly resounded by his ears. Liao Qian only felt like he was being poured with cold water through and through, and the mutterings of the night ghosts coming from all directions suddenly disappeared, and he woke up in the next moment.

And then, he saw a sword strike.

[1] Read as, the Yang realm. (in opposition to the Yin realm)

[2] 昙花⼀现- as brief as the epiphyllum lasts. For reference, the flower only blooms for one night a year.

[3] ⽞门- another way to refer to taoism and metaphysics ( ⽞学). The ‘gate’ portion can also be read as sect (from 宗门). To note: Jiu Xuan Sect is the only named sect to use this version (门), in comparison to the other sects’ names which would use 宗.
[4] 到家- can be read as ‘reach/go home’. The only viable interpretation this could possibly mean being very good at something is that they’re so good that those words reach home, and that can make the family proud.

[5] ⿏⽬⼨光- a rat’s eyes can only see an inch of light. As short-sighted as a rat.

Chapter 57

Chapter Fifty-Seven, Moon of Midwinter, Sword of Cold Snow. (隆冬之
⽉, 寒雪之剑)
A ray of light akin to being refracted from ice on the peak of a snowy mountain, lightly scattered inside the dark mountain valley.

Because Liao Qian was running to the point of being short of breath and dripping with sweat, the sweatdrops went inside his eyes, making his vision a bit blurry. In the slightly hazy field of view, he only felt like he saw a sliver of moonlight.

That was the moonlight from the twelfth of midwinter, coldly coming down from the horizon. The strike of light fell down like the moon, without a sound or breath. It fell in a place a bit further from the Jiu Xuan youth, and fell in the place the black aura was about to touch.

After the strike fell down, a thin wall of ice came out from the
ground.

That was a thin ice wall suffused with a faint blue light. It spanned
across the very middle of the road, blocked itself in front of Liao Qian and the youth, and separated the world into two halves- one half was behind the ice wall, the black and ghastly ghost realm, and the other half in front of the ice wall, the normal human realm.

The icy cold air made Liao Qian genuinely tremble with a start. When he half-opened his mouth, the frosty air poured into the bottom of his heart, and made him turn cold. Beneath the cold air, that substance-like black aura wrapped around Liao Qian and the youth’s bodies were frozen into small bits, and refracted with the light from the ice crystals, then lightly fell to the ground.

Liao Qian could not care to brush off the ice crystals that fell onto his body. He looked up towards that wall of ice that rose from the ground and forcefully separated the constantly spreading ghost realm. No, not merely separate. Behind the ice wall, a layer of thin dim-blue-coloured ice was slowly spreading out, while those unknown layers of night ghosts were slowly being sealed by the ice from bottom to top.

Those black figures twisted and struggled, so Liao Qian figured they must be shrilly screaming, but that wall of ice isolated those sounds behind the wall, thus, he could only see a soundless picture—— all the struggles were a wasted effort. The ice layer covered up all the way through, and the night ghosts were sealed into statues one by one in the end.

The colour of the sky was muddled and dark, yet the front emerged with a beautiful world.

Separated by the wall of ice, Liao Qian saw ice continuously spreading out, saw the black-bricked house eaves covered with a layer of ice, saw statues of immovable sculptures…… this span of continuously stretching ghost realm, under that strike, was completely forced back a distance.

And the wall of ice that lied across the middle of the road was just like the boundary in the legends that partitioned out the Yin and Yang realms.

Liao Qian opened his mouth wide for half a day, and in the end, could only let out a subconscious sound.

At the time he was in a trance, the light sound of footsteps emitted from the back.

Liao Qian turned his head over, and saw a bunch of people dressed in clothes with Jiu Xuan Sect’s symbols coming down from the eaves of the other side of the road, and walking towards this way. In the very front was a thin youth dressed in white- he straightly walked over with his back to the light, while his hand was holding up a longsword.

Within the gloomy grey surroundings all around, the longsword in that person’s hand was suffused with a pure light just like snow.

“They really made it.”    When Liao Qian distinctly saw the Jiu Xuan symbol on those people, he let out a breath. The tightened mentality eased up, and weariness immediately rose up like tidal water. With a “thump”, he planted himself towards the back, and collapsed on the ground, gasping for big breaths.

—— From today on, even if Jiu Xuan Sect’s people were lunatics, then they are the world’s most lovable[1] lunatics! Whoever refuses to accept it, he’ll use money to pound whoever dead.

However……

Liao Qian suddenly got scared. Grandmother[2], he almost got killed by this Jiu Xuan brat. Thankfully, he did not actually run by himself, otherwise, when he encountered this brat’s senior brothers and sisters, if the other party were to take out their anger on him, this body of fat meat of his was only puffy- it definitely could not contend with this kind of ice wall that could even partition the ghost realm out.

Just as he was thinking, that group of people got more and more closer, and Liao Qian could also gradually make out what the person leading looked like.

Cold and indifferent features, slightly pursed faint-coloured lips, with an expression that was indistinguishable if joyous or angry. When they walked out from the end of that gloomy and sombre road, it was just like an immortal walking out from the moon……

Jiu Xuan Sect’s, Bai Li Shu!!! With a “swoosh”, in front of the ice wall brimming with cold air all around, Liao Qian actually instantly let out a body of cold sweat. His brain was only left with one thought—— Oh no, it’s over, I’m going to turn into a ice statue.

As for why the famous name of the Immortal Beyond Heaven could be spread this far, other than that that one strike in the secret territory in the beginning, was definitely related to the 《 Twelve Volume Beauty Records 》 that the Nine Provinces Private Bank created. Immortal cultivation was just immortal cultivation- the feeling of wanting to have
small talks and gossip, even if one was an immortal, was quite present,
hence why the immortal-cultivating realm’s beauty rankings the Nine Provinces Private Bank made was so welcomed.

And as for why Jiu Xuan Sect’s Senior Bai Li would enter the number one ranking of “Twelve Volume Beauty Records” in the beginning, was because a busybody used a tablet to secretly copy Bai Li Shu’s figure, and was “carelessly” spread out in the end.

As for who this busybody was, Liao Qian couldn’t be any more familiar.

Because it was not any other person, but himself!

Five years ago, Liao Qian was still a normal official disciple of Nine Provinces Bank. His own strength was originally not that good, and he himself was also cowardly and afraid of dying. But ways for how to get rich, was something his brain was particularly great at. At that one time he coincidentally saw Bai Li Shu, Liao Qian secretly used a spirit tablet to copy down Bai Li Shu’s figure.

And then after this, it was “carelessly” circulated around, and drew in a bunch of people’s attention.

Following which, the “Twelve Volume Beauty Records” then logically had a demand, but no market. And it was precisely due to this, that Liao Qian was then regarded highly by the elders, and received enough medicinal pills to forcefully have his cultivation raised up. In reality, he had long already forgotten this matter, since Liao Qian felt that an immortal on the peak of a snowy mountain like Bai Li Shu would definitely not pay attention to this kind of nonsensical trivial matter.

But it couldn’t be helped, that one strike of Bai Li Shu’s just now was just too shocking—— even now, that wall of ice was still emitting cold air. Adding in with the guilty conscience, when Liao Qian saw Bai Li Shu all of a sudden, he immediately felt so guilty he let out a body of cold sweat.

tap, tap.

When that group of people got closer and closer, Liao Qian then discovered that among them, wearing Confucian clothes with the appearance of a scholar, was Tai Shang Sect’s Smiling Scholar. He held his heart up to his mouth, scared that the sword in Bai Li Shu’s hand would suddenly move, and he himself would step onto those night ghosts’ footsteps as well, then turn into a ice statue.

“Someone from Nine Provinces Private Bank?” Walking by Bai Li Shu’s side was a young woman with valiant features dressed in deep- blue robes. She looked down at Liao Qian, and slightly raised her eyebrows.

Bai Li Shu directly walked past Liao Qian, then walked towards that ice wall.

Seeing that Bai Li Shu did not pay attention to himself at all, the heart Liao Qian raised up instantly fell down, and out of habit, he let out a smile that those in Nine Provinces’ restaurants used to face customers, and replied, “Yes yes yes, much thanks for the few Jiu Xuan senior brothers and sisters for saving my life. In the future, if you folks give patronage to one of the buildings belonging to the Nine Provinces Private Bank, I would definitely give you guys……” “Stop!” When she heard this familiar pattern of Nine Provinces Private Bank’s, Jun Wan Bai subconsciously moved away her gaze, and shouted at this fatty covered with gems and jewels in front of her.

—— Don’t look at how Jun Wan Bai is Jiu Xuan Sect Xuan Shuang peak’s representative disciple. In reality, she really didn’t have that much money. The money that the sect would give once a month was all thrown into the bottomless pit that was cultivation.

Furthermore, other than being famed for having money, the Nine Provinces Private Bank had something else it was famed for, and that was…… being good at tricking people out of their wealth.

Jun Wan Bai recalled that pair of bone swords she bought at Nine Provinces Private Bank that were lost in the battle with the fog raptor, and expressionlessly moved away her gaze to look at Bai Li Shu walking towards the wall of ice.

[1] Also to be read as, cute.

[2] In the same lines as mother(fucker), another way of cursing out. Or you can just see it as a way of crying out to mommy, but instead of mommy, it’s grandma.

Chapter 58

Chapter Fifty-Eight, the Tablets of the Topmost Floor, Jiu Xuan’s Disciples. (顶层之碑, 九⽞弟⼦)
Bing Province City’s weapons storage was a subsidiary building of the government official temple, built closely neighbouring to Bing Province’s own official temple. It was also precisely due to this that Bai Li Shu and others would see Jiu Xuan Sect’s distress call rise up from the official temple. As Bing Province’s important area, the surrounding houses within a certain distance around the weapons storage were particularly few. And outside the weapons storage, after leaving out a certain amount of space for the roads, was a wall created from rammed earth surrounding all four directions.

The wall of ice suffused with dim blue light laid across the middle of the road, and separated that span of continuously expanding ghost realm.

However, at a slightly further distance, the ghost realm already swallowed up the larger half of the weapons storage and the surrounding five zhang-thick walls.

Within a distance behind the ice wall, the night ghosts were frozen into forests of statues, but even further away, in the ghost realm’s territory so black there wasn’t any light, were even more things anxious to move.

However, the wall of ice that came out of nowhere was just like the law of the emperors in the era of Chaos- it stood over there and drew out an impassable boundary. After Liao Qian was lifted up by a Jiu Xuan disciple, he used his hand that slightly shook from using too much strength, and took out a bottle of medicinal pills, then put one pill inside his own mouth.

Since he had been bound by night ghosts, the Yin aura that entered his body was enough to make him suffer. That Jiu Xuan disciple dressed in black with a cold face that didn’t look that much like a living person came over and patted his shoulder, then the Yin aura that escaped inside his body disappeared cleanly.

Liao Qian took a look at that black-clothed Jiu Xuan disciple, and only felt that Jiu Xuan Sect was too unfathomable to be understood. As expected of the one worth being the immortal sects’ number one sect.

“That is Senior Li Xin.” The one holding him up was a Jiu Xuan Li Range disciple, and he said this with a prideful tone.

Oh, Jiu Xuan’s famous Half-crazed Li.

Liao Qian took back his gaze, and secretly looked towards Bai Li Shu. He only saw the thin youth dressed in white robes stop in front of the ice wall, currently looking at the ghost realm’s situation behind the ice wall. Liao Qian secretly tutted inside, thinking, no wonder there were that many maidens in the immortal cultivation realm who wanted to form a couple with this person with their all in the beginning. Without mentioning anything else, with just this face, it was definitely worth it.

“This fellow’s okay, right?”     That unconscious Jiu Xuan youth was already lifted up by someone, and Li Xin who, despite being a living person, was always dark and gloomy was already drawing out his body’s Yin aura. Liao Qian came over, and nervously asked a disciple by the side in a small voice.

Just as he asked, the youth was already severely coughing, and woke
up.

“You woke up!” Liao Qian was overjoyed, and slapped the youth’s
shoulder with his palm, “Do you know how much strength I used to have you carried out from that place? Your bones were even extremely hard and almost bruised me, but thankfully, this body of mine can be considered thick.”

“When we return, I’ll go to one of your inns, and I’ll tell the Nine Provinces’ disciples, and charge you for it.” The youth did not even raise his eyelids, and responded back with a sentence.

Liao Qian sighed in relief. Still good, still good. They still can talk back. It’s still that ruthless-mouthed little pretty face. Looks like he’s really okay.

“Charge my ass…… My assets are pretty much all gone, and you still want to rob me……” As Liao Qian went on, the big rock on his chest fell down, and he instantly felt the hint of coldness emitting from that ice wall. He then hurriedly crawled back a good distance, and distanced himself far away from that ice wall.

“Li range, Bing Province’s tower-guarding disciple, Zhou Wen An[1] greets all the seniors.”

The youth stood up with the support of another person. He clearly recognized Jun Wan Bai and the others who came over, and hurriedly bowed. Compared to when he faced Liao Qian, Zhou Wen An obviously extremely suited his name at this time- all his courtesy was there, and on his face was an unconcealed joy.

Liao Qian to the side slightly sneered once.

What’s he up to, was it all that amazing to have extremely incredible seniors, able to suddenly appear in the most urgent of times, and save people from waters and fires?

—— Fine, it’s quite incredible.     Liao Qian lowered his head to look at his own dishevelled appearance, and again looked at the scene of Zhou Wen An being clustered around by Jiu Xuan’s disciples, and dejectedly thought this. “How is it?”       A voice with a bit of coldness resounded. Bai Li Shu walked back holding his sword, but from his expression, one could not guess what he saw from the situation behind the ice wall.

“Se-senior Bai Li……” When he saw the white-clothed youth holding a sword coming over, Zhou Wen An who just woke up from an unconscious state let out a dumbfounded expression, slightly not daring to believe who he saw.

Bai Li Shu slightly nodded his head, and calmly said, “Brother.”

And then within Liao Qian’s dumbfounded gaze, Zhou Wen An stood up straight in an instant, and very respectfully paid respects to Bai Li Shu—— wait a minute, little pretty face, this differential treatment of yours is far too obvious, is it not? Even if your Senior Bai Li is really extremely strong and particularly reliable, you don’t need to so distinctly put your idolization on your face, right?

When you saw the other seniors just now, you were still normal, with proper etiquette……

In a moments time, countless words madly surged up and were held up in Liao Qian’s chest- if they weren’t spit out, he would feel upset, but that wall of ice was still glaringly laying across the middle of the road, and made him wisely let go of the intent of speaking out. When he observed other people’s attitude to Zhou Wen An’s reaction in his surroundings, he discovered that pretty much everyone had the face of being used to the unusual.

No no no, it was not the appearance of being accustomed to the unusual.

It was the look of it being right and proper, tacitly acknowledging that Zhou Wen An’s reaction was actually normal.

Liao Qian retracted his gaze, and numbly looked at the stone tiles
—— as expected, Jiu Xuan Sect was a place that created abnormal immortal cultivators. “Where did all the people in Bing Province City go? Just what is exactly up with Bing Province City’s situation?” After confirming that Zhou Wen An was already fine, Qin Jiu asked these questions. He wrinkled his eyebrows while watching the ghost realm that was forced back by Bai Li Shu’s strike, with his complexion not all that good.

As the entrance connecting to the netherworld, the ghost realm typically appeared in places where Yin filth accumulated regularly, and moreover would only appear in the middle of the night, then fade away in the daytime. In addition, even if it was daytime, and the ghost realm disappeared, it would leave extremely dense and thick Yin aura in the original area. However, after entering Bing Province City, Qin Jiu and Chu Zhi Yuan previously brought people to check it over, but no matter if it was inside the wine store or the inns, they did not discover traces of Yin aura being left behind.

At this time, the sky may be sombre, but it was the daytime after all. Typically, the ghost realm should not appear, and even more so with a stretch of ghost realm this big in front of their eyes that practically went beyond normal logic and reasoning.

And then, with a ghost realm that was this big, the Yin aura was instead confined and did not spread out. If Bai Li Shu did not directly rush here with them, even with the Jiu Xuan disciple’s distress call that Zhou Wen An shot out, it would be very hard for them to directly to find them.

And at that time, whether Liao Qian and Zhou Wen An still had their lives would be hard to say.

While Qin Jiu knitted his eyebrows, he suddenly recalled how Bai Li Shu did not let them release spiritual insight arbitrarily when they were in the southwest district of Bing Province City- could it be that it was related with the ghost realm strangely appearing?

Zhou Wen An raised his head and looked towards the direction of the Qing Ming tower. At this time, they were inside the city, so the Qing Ming tower looked much more clearer compared to when they were outside the city.

The Qing Ming tower that stood on the lands of the twelve dynasties and provided orientation for the countless incoming flying vessels was built to be very majestic. The tower itself was split into ninety-nine floors, whereas each floor would have a constellation map inside. When the ninety-nine floors’ constellations combined together, it would form a complete Universal Constellation map.

This old formation tower that originated from the end of the era of Ten Thousand Immortals started being built very early on, and in the long period of time after that, no matter if it was the sects or the dynasties, they all expended a lot of painstaking efforts towards the towers.

The ninety-nine floor-tall tower was crowned with the name of “Qing Ming”.

Qing Ming, was the sky.

This building that had the sky as its name was used to connect to the skies. It was the testament of people seizing the power of the world’s stars, the biggest miracle that humankind had created up to this day, and was also the symbol of the ancient emperors’ fall. In the Savage era, the vault of heaven was always the territory that belonged to the divine birds and odd beasts. Various winged, big and terrifying crude beasts would hover over the sky, while the human race was like ants, curling up in the forests, who would tremble from the shadows the crude beasts cast.

And in the era of Chaos, the period of time brought from Kong Jia ending the beasts’ reign, the almighty people of each clan walked up to the grand stage. They were revered as emperors, and as the skies were the ancient emperors’ domain, the old emperors’ majesty enveloped over top of their territory- to provoke the skies was to provoke the ancient emperors. At the arrival of the era of Ten Thousand Immortals, the ancient emperors died off one by one, then immortals and demons engaged in war. Immortal cultivators gradually spread out over the vast lands of the twelve dynasties like flood water, then, various kinds of spiritual tools and flying vessels appeared atop the skies.

When the Qing Ming towers were constructed, the immortal cultivator’s transcendent positions were erected, and the flying vessels started freely crossing through the cloud layer.

The Qing Ming tower that carried this much history, from the moment it was born, was destined to be extremely majestic, to be incomparably grand.

Each giant stone on the tower’s body were black stones extracted from the “earth(element)” vein, polished by countless craftsmen’s hands to look like the same as each other, straight and smooth. Each giant stone needed to go through the process of engraving ancient magic scripts by top- rate arts masters, then placed together with perfect fit, and then finally, turned as smooth and sleek as a mirror.

This was a heavy, silent, grand, world-connecting tower. And then, today, there was a mishap with it.
◈◈◈
The abnormality appeared in the Qing Ming tower without any sign.

That day, Zhou Wen An was just like usual, patrolling the lower floor of the Qing Ming tower. As the tower used to set orientation, the inner part of the Qing Ming tower was flooded with the power of space and the stars as great as the sea, so even the tower-guarding disciples could not easily touch the magic scripts in the tower.

Zhou Wen An was walking up step by step along the stone staircase that coiled around the tower’s body.

He was Jiu Xuan Sect Li range’s disciple, and had been dispatched to Bing Province to guard the tower for almost seven years already. The sect disciples who knew him all said he shouldn’t be Li range’s disciple, as Li was primarily fire. Li range’s disciples were typically overbearing and aggressive, with swift and fierce manners, however, Zhou Wen An instead seemed like a gentle and frail-looking mortal realm poet, polite and amiable whenever doing anything. Zhou Wen An himself did not know why Li range’s elder would choose him either.

After cultivating at Jiu Xuan Sect’s main sect until he broke into the Primary Dan boundary, Zhou Wen An came to Bing Province City, and started guarding the tower.

Guarding the Qing Ming tower was actually a very solitary and dangerous thing. Every day, each tower-guarding disciple needed to carefully confirm whether every line of the script was functioning as usual, and needed to change out the spirit stones spent of its spiritual aura on time, while the interior of the tower’s body would be circling with chaotic power of the space and stars, springing up along with the constellation’s rotation like the tide.

If there was an abnormality with the stars, the circulation of the space and stars’ power would be disturbed, then, even if the tower-guarding disciples themselves were swept up into the turbulent flow of space, and died without a place of burial, they needed to draw the out-of-control power back onto the orbit the magic formation set.

Each one of those very dark giant rocks extracted from the the elemental vein of the world were imbued with Jiu Xuan Sect’s disciples’ blood. In name, the Qing Ming tower was guarded together by both the dynasty and the sect, but the most core and most dangerous tasks were typically presided over by the Jiu Xuan disciples.

With the long period of time, who knew how many young sect disciples died from guarding the tower.

Outsiders did not know, but at Jiu Xuan Sect, in each Qing Ming tower’s topmost floor, what was placed there was not some strong spiritual tool, nor some mysterious formation diagram. The topmost floor of the Qing Ming tower was the place closest from the sky, and was also the place with the most plentiful spiritual aura. As for what the situation was with the other sects’ Qing Ming towers, Zhou Wen An did not know.

But in the Qing Ming towers Jiu Xuan Sect were responsible for, the topmost floor was not the place where the tower-guarding elders cultivated, nor was it the place to raise spiritual tools.

That was the place placed with countless spiritual tablets[2].

Zhou Wen An went up there once. In the place closest to the sky, deep-black-coloured spiritual tablets were lined up layer by layer, ordered according to the time. On the spiritual tablets, white-coloured spirit lacquer was used to write the names of these sect disciples who died guarding the tower.

The senior brother who brought him up there said, the common people would not remember their names, so we need to remember them.

By placing the spiritual tablets here, for these Jiu Xuan Sect disciples who were sacrificed, their souls would receive gestation from the world’s spiritual energy, so when they reincarnated, they would definitely be better off than other people just slightly. One or two spirit tools, compared to these brothers’ lives, were not that important.

“If even we forget them, then who would know that this Qing Ming tower, was imbued with this many people’s blood?”   Is what the senior said.

And then, one month later, another deep-black spiritual tablet appeared in the Qing Ming tower’s most top floor.

And it was also from that moment on, that Zhou Wen An thoroughly took himself as a part of Jiu Xuan Sect.

When patrolling in the middle of the night, Zhou Wen An would not feel like he was alone. When he raised his head up, he would always feel as though there were many senior brothers and sisters accompanying himself slowly walking up step after step of the stone staircase. Just like…… Just like at a time long ago, when he stumbled and fell onto the stairs that connected to the sky, there was also someone who came over to pull his hand up, and bring him into the grand world of the immortal cultivators.

This was Jiu Xuan Sect. Their Jiu Xuan Sect.
Normally, the tower-guarding disciples would change out once every ten years. Zhou Wen An thought that he would either suddenly die in an unforeseen constellation abnormality, just like Senior, and stay at the topmost floor of the Qing Ming tower, or the ten-year period would go by, then he would make a request to the elder to continue guarding, and become a normal tower-guarding disciple, then wipe the top floor’s spiritual tablets once every day.

However, he did not think that one day, those spiritual tablets inscribed with his seniors’ names would be destroyed.

The Qing Ming tower, met with a mishap.

[1] 周⽂安- zhou, for attentive, or all around, wen, for polite, and an, for peaceful or calm. All in all, polite and calm.

[2] Equivalent to western gravestones, but more compact, small and wooden. I just realized spirit (energy) tablets and spiritual (aka the soul) tablets are written the same, but iirc there won’t be any spirit energy tablets showing up in the future so just keep in mind spiritual tablets in later chapters refer to gravestones.

Chapter 59

Chapter Fifty-Nine, Mausoleum’s Forbidden Territory, Tens of Thousands of Links. (京陵禁地, 千丝万缕)
The accident with the Qing Ming tower came all of a sudden. The power of the space and stars that originally followed the formation along with changes in the constellations and flow of the water suddenly lost control, and instantly came out vigorously just like the vast, big sea, then enveloped the entire Bing Province City within a brief time of a few breaths.

The power hovering inside this tower that connected with the heavens far exceeded anyone’s imaginations- just suppressing the slightest disorder in the regular day needed to put up that many Jiu Xuan Sect disciples’ lives, let alone when an entire tower’s power erupted altogether.

In that instant, Zhou Wen An only felt a wave of strength vast to the point that it made people unable to put up any resistance explode out from the middle of the tower.

Just like the East Sea overturning, with white waves rising as high as the heavens; like a volcano erupting, with the magma spreading all over the earth.

Zhou Wen An turned his head, and before he lost consciousness, he saw the formation rocks embedded inside the Qing Ming tower above his head emit a dazzling light, then the ancient scripts on the walls of the tower flaking and shattering bit by bit…… He only felt like he was watching a sea of stars, or a stretch of the vault of heaven, where the skies shattered, like mortals coming down hanging over.

When Zhou Wen An came to again, he discovered he was lying down in a small alleyway.

He continuously tried to return to the Qing Ming tower once again, wanting to confirm other Jiu Xuan disciples’ circumstances, but every time, he was forced back by that disorderly space.

The power of the stars and space that lost control inside the Qing Ming tower already flooded the entire Bing Province City. Zhou Wen An presumed that the reason why people in Bing Province City disappeared should be due to being swept into it and transported to some unknown place. It was also from that time on, that Bing Province City’s five elements along with the Yin and Yang turned particularly chaotic- the boundary between the netherworld and human realm turned hazy, so one had to be particularly careful when walking through the city, because any place had the possibility of suddenly connecting to the netherworld in the next moment.

At present, the ghost realm they saw was a place that connected to the netherworld after the elements turned into a mess and Yin and Yang turned chaotic.

After these few days of feeling around, Zhou Wen An discovered this kind of ghost realm was extremely unstable. They might last for a very long period of time, and continuously expand, but also possibly very quickly disappear.

Before Bai Li Shu and others rushed over, there were also other disciples of strong sects who came over, but Zhou Wen An reckoned they were just like himself, and turned weary while dealing with this kind of chaotic and unstable ghost realm these days.

“The constellations are originally an important constitution of the world’s Yin and Yang.”    After listening to Zhou Wen An’s briefing, Qin Jiu entered into deep thought. He raised his eyes to look towards the lofty black tall tower. If one went by Zhou Wen An’s speculations, there was certainly a large possibility that the people inside Bing Province City were swept into the chaotic and unclear space. And the power of the stars, as an important branch of the world’s five elements, when abnormally flooded up in an area, would certainly interfere with the Yin and Yang, and thus the ghost realm appearing would then be understandable.

“Why did no one ever mentioned when the Qing Ming tower met with a mishap, it would have this kind of result?” Chu Zhi Yuan knitted his eyebrows.

When He Zhou heard Chu Zhi Yuan’s words, he who would always bear a face like the entire world owed him money suddenly changed in expression, and he abruptly raised his head to look towards the indifferent Bai Li Shu, “No, this kind of situation has already appeared before.”

“What?”’    Other than Bai Li Shu, everyone directed surprised looks towards He Zhou, and did not know what he meant by those words.

“Guang Han Province, Mausoleum of Ten Million.”      He Zhou said in a deep voice.

Guang Han Province’s Mausoleum of Ten Million, a place that once had the name of “mortal realm’s Peng Lai”, also today’s “soul-burying platform”.

When they heard “Mausoleum of Ten Million.” these four words, pretty much everyone’s faces changed. Qin Jiu immediately refuted, “The Mausoleum of Ten Million is certainly an incomplete Qing Ming tower, however, after being abandoned, it was changed into a star-gazing platform…… star-gazing platform……”

Before Qin Jiu finished, he stopped himself.

He repeated “star-gazing platform” a few times in a low voice, and his face emerged both an enlightened and dumbfounded expression. Certainly, it was true that the Mausoleum of Ten Million was abolished as a Qing Ming tower, but afterwards, it was changed into a star- gazing platform. And a star-gazing platform in the same manner could guide the world’s constellations. However, this needed people to guide it, just like how the Qing Ming tower in the same fashion needed many people and objects to maintain it. One careless move would create…… Ah shit(ghosts), isn’t the current Mausoleum of Ten Million already turned into a shady-ass place that forbade entry?

Furthermore, the commoners of Guang Han Prefecture also all very certainly died. Could it be that they were just like Bing Province City’s commoners, and actually did not die to some immortal cultivator who turned into a demon?

But……

All the various thoughts in Qin Jiu’s head messily mixed into one. As core disciples, they all had some sort of faint understanding towards these comparatively secretive things. Something like how Guang Han Prefecture’s Mausoelum turned into a forbidden territory because someone turned into a demon there, was always said for those people who did not need to know too much.

Qin Jiu also once questioned his master regarding the matter of the Mausoleum of Ten Million, but Master was unwilling to say it directly, and his words were all obscure.

If the Mausoleum was used to guide the constellations, then who was it that had the ability to mobilize so many immortal cultivators to maintain the formation? These immortal cultivators’ strength did not need to be that high, but the number would definitely not be small. And what reason lead to the Mausoelum’s mishap later on, and what kind of relation did it have with the present day Bing Province’s Qing Ming tower……

Question after question successively emerged inside without a stop. Qin Jiu took up the wine flask and shook it, then raised his head to pour in a mouthful. Jun Wan Bai turned her sights to Bai Li Shu.

The thin youth slightly lowered his eyes, as though unresponsive to He Zhou’s words.

However, Jun Wan Bai clearly remembered- at the time before the Mausoleum’s situation had not yet fully taken a turn for the worst, there was a stipulation one must follow when entering Guang Han Prefecture.

—— Do not let out your spiritual insight.

And not long after entering Bing Province City, Bai Li Shu ordered them not to arbitrarily use their spiritual insight.
This person…… Did he suspect something from that time on? “Senior, the ghost realm has retreated!” Just as the few core
disciples and Ye Qiu Sheng this half-way joined Tai Shang disciple entered into deep thought, a Jiu Xuan disciple suddenly yelled out.

Everyone turned their heads over to see, and only saw the chaotic darkness behind the ice wall disappear bit by bit. The surrounding walls and weapons storage swallowed by the ghost realm revealed bit by bit, and just like the buildings they saw on their way here, these buildings engulfed by the ghost realm did not leave a dense Yin aura behind like normal circumstances would have seen.

After the ghost realm withdrew, the wall of ice that laid across the middle of the road suddenly shattered into bits and pieces of pale-white ice crystals, copiously coming down in streams.

“What do we do now? What to do with this Nine Provinces Private Bank bastard?”     Jun Wan Bai looked towards Bai Li Shu, attempting to see what exactly he was thinking from his reaction.

Bai Li Shu looked at Liao Qian once. Liao Qian shivered from being looked at, and hurriedly squeezed out a currying smile—— Old Man Heaven please bless me, that this great person has great benevolence[1], and not bother over someone like him. At the time Liao Qian’s heart was raised up to his throat, Bai Li Shu moved his gaze away.

“We will go to the Qing Ming tower.”        Bai Li Shu raised his head to looked at that silent, seemingly eternally towering black-coloured tall tower. His pitch-black eyes were reflected with the fluttering myriad of ice crystals, as though the many stars trickled down to the bottom of his eyes.

“As for him, either he stays or comes along.”

“Fatty, what do you choose?” The impoverished Jun Wan Bai had a natural hostility towards this Nine Provinces Private Bank disciple who seemed so rich he leaked oil with one look, and asked without any courtesy, “I’ll say this clearly first, no matter which one you choose, when you go back, remember to give us a fee for taking care of you.”

Liao Qian suddenly felt like this violent Jiu Xuan senior sister might actually also be suited to go to the Nine Provinces Private Bank.
Look at her martial arts, and how proficient she is at extortion. “Senior Jun.” Zhou Wen An’s complexion was still not that good.
He caught up with Bai Li Shu who already turned and walked towards the Qing Ming tower, “I think even if we receive this fellow’s fee, it would still be a loss. A burden several hundred jin heavy is very easy at slowing down our progress. Let alone, this bastard’s cultivation has a lot of water weight.”

“Hey hey, little pretty face, good or bad, I just valiantly carried you out too. Can you not just tear off my cover?” Liao Qian was exasperated, and cursed while following with all the Jiu Xuan people whose speed was extremely fast.

—— Isn’t it fine to just directly say that Qing Ming tower was more dangerous than this place? Why must they tear off people’s wounds? No wonder that Yu Shou Sect bunch would hate Jiu Xuan Sect to the point their teeth ached. They were probably mocked by Jiu Xuan’s bastards quite a lot in the normal day. Liao Qian thought, while pulling down his face and taking a look at the bits of ice fallen onto the ground.

It wasn’t like he was a fool either- of course, he knew the Qing Ming tower was more dangerous than here by countless times. When Liao Qian thought about going there, his legs would start trembling, however…… With a trash fighting capacity like his, staying behind might not let him get close to leaving the city…… If he were to meet with something on the road, he would hang up, okay?

When actually standing in front of the Qing Ming tower, one could then directly feel its magnificence.

Bai Li Shu raised his head, and looked at the black tower body extending upwards. In their line of sight, the top part disappeared within the gloomy and sunken dark clouds.

This was the testament that immortal cultivators transcended the world, and was also the symbol of the ancient emperors’ fall. It was extremely magnificent, while each giant rock would be engraved with the archaic history. The tall tower crowned with the name of the sky sat in each big city’s centre, while the city’s axes would run through here, like each city’s heart.

If the heart stopped beating, then would that city still live on?

The city’s missing commoners and the chaotic Yin and Ying seemed to be the response to this question.

The imposing pressure of the tall tower was erected just at their front. In front of the ninety-nine story Qing Ming tower, their group of people were just as insignificant as ants. There were no other buildings within a ten mile radius of the Qing Ming tower, incomparably hollow and open.

The scripts on the tower’s body were fragmented a lot more by this time, in addition, there were also continuously falling rocks coming down. One could imagine that not long after, it would completely fall apart. At that time…… Would this place become a second Mausoleum of Ten Million?

Zhou Wen An looked up towards the familiar tall tower, with a grieving and vacant expression appearing on his face.

Liao Qian speechlessly patted his shoulder.

There was not a person from Jiu Xuan Sect who said a word. Ye Qiu Sheng this Tai Shang Sect disciple moved his lips, but in the end, still endured the urge of dropping his book bag. He looked towards Bai Li Shu who was at the group’s very front. That person’s white robes were blown by the wind that their spacious sleeves turned over and fluttered about, and he in the same manner looked up and observed the black tower.

—— At this time, what was the person called “fate” by the shitty old man thinking?

Since they had the title of “fate”, then what would this person do next in regards to this Bing Province’s Qing Ming tower’s abnormality? Would he be that person to end everything this time? Just like in Yan Men Prefecture’s underground, when this person stepped through the layer of ice and crossed through the courtyard cast from bronze, then stepped onto the white bones of the soul-sealing altar.

After quietly standing for a moment, the group of people passed through the empty space, and walked towards the Qing Ming tower. Along with the gradual approach of the tower, an invisible unease emerged inside everyone. This was a warning let out by the spiritual insight that this place was very dangerous. But with Bai Li Shu’s orders, no one dared to release their spiritual insight to perceive the surrounding circumstances.

However, from the looks of the continuously appearing, faint warping feeling and misty constellation lights, their sides must be filled with a lot of disorderly and chaotic power of space and stars.

Without using their brains, they still understood- once they made contact with that warped space, there would definitely be no good end to it. “Follow along.”

When everyone was secretly in shock, Bai Li Shu who walked at the very front suddenly paused in his steps, and his voice distinctly transmitted to each person’s ears.
[1] ⼤⼈有⼤量- or, as lenient/benevolent as he is powerful.

Chapter 60

Chapter Sixty, Half-crazy, Half-demented, Half a Spiritual Tablet. (半疯半颠,半块灵牌)
—— Follow along.

When the voice transmitted beside her ear, Jun Wan Bai was stunned for a moment.

The disorderly power of the space and stars chaotically congested the space by the tower. Dark clouds layered over each other, weighing down over their heads.When one looked ahead, everything was dark and dim, depressing and also dangerous. It was just like when they were underneath the Spirit Star temple, where the surroundings were all a pitch-black, giant chains traversed throughout, and the flock of Chi chameleons hid within the darkness, moving at the opportunity.

And Bai Li Shu was just like how he was at that time right now.

With a simple and short two words “follow along” like before, that person walked to their front, with their sleeves fluttering in the wind, and their back figure lean just like tall bamboo.

In the dark underground, that person said to follow along, and then, in the neither high nor low reciting of 《Tai Yi Record 》, they brought them through the flock of chameleons, and stepped onto that lone island
suspended in midair. And today, that person continued to let them follow
along, and so Jun Wan Bai watched as she brushed past the warped spaces through the shoulders herself, as though continuously going forward along the edge of a broken space, and in the end, slowly approached that lofty towering high tower.

Just when did it start?

That she actually was accustomed to having that person in the front, while she herself followed in his footsteps.

Jun Wan Bai did not know exactly what kind of feeling she herself bore, but her chest seemed to be stifled with a breath, with a stuffy, indescribable feeling.

She recalled her own speculations, then also recalled the figure of Bai Li Shu bringing them through the dark chains.

—— The feeling of these kinds of things jumbling altogether truly was detestable.          As Jun Wan Bai thought this, she lowered her head, and slowly closed her eyes.

Liao Qian was the group’s least courageous, with the weakest strength and the most greenest. He pondered for a bit, then squeezed into the middle of the group without shame. Zhou Wen An as the injured was also arranged in the middle of the group, and when he saw Chubby Liao’s good-for-nothing look, he laughed, then said in a low voice, “To think that even if your figure was the most robust, you can be the most useless among embroidery pillows.”

“Hey hey hey, you pretty little face, don’t start getting arrogant after you have your seniors backing you up.” Liao Qian lowered his voice to answer him, and secretly pointed to Bai Li Shu who was walking at the very front.       “It’s not like I’m your eldest brother, that incredible and capable of forcing back a hundred ghosts with one strike. If I were not careful and prudent, then I would die long ago, alright?”

Zhou Wen An’s face turned cold, and with a “pah”, slapped away Liao Qian’s hand, “How impudent, who let you be so rude to our eldest brother?” Liao Qian was heavily hit all of a sudden, and his face twisted for a bit. He lowered his head to look, fuck, it’s swollen. Liao Qian thought, this kid probably held a grudge when he said his bones were too hard before, and wanted to settle personal grudges through public means, right? Just when he wanted to respond to Zhou Wen An’s words, Liao Qian suddenly felt something was not right.

He carefully observed all around, and saw that the Jiu Xuan disciples to the front, back, left and right were watching the front. On one hand, they followed Bai Li Shu forward, and on the other, their hands were already placed on their sword hilts at some time ago.

Liao Qian very self-consciously shut his mouth.

To the side, Zhou Wen An let out a sneer, “Scaredy cat.”

“Can the people of the Nine Provinces Private Bank being scared really be called being scared? This is called having a long-distance gaze, knowing the need to leave a green mountain[1].” Without any sense of shame, Liao Qian asserted this with eloquence.

Zhou Wen An suddenly very much wanted to have this bastard kicked into the surrounding area’s warped space and left behind, and save him from walking together to undermine his own image in front of the seniors’ eyes.

As they got closer and closer to the Qing Ming tower, even if they did not release their spiritual insight, everyone still could feel a formless pressure surge from their surroundings, constraining them. This wave of pressure still did not reach the point that it made people unable to walk, but instead, it made people raise up their hearts, and turn extremely cautious.

Within immortal cultivation, intuition was always extremely important.

And this formless pressure gave people a kind of indescribable dangerous feeling. Liao Qian did not dare to prattle on with any more rubbish. He very carefully progressed forward along the places Bai Li Shu walked over, scared that if he walked one wrong step, he would be swept into some nameless space, and this approaching-three-hundred-jin of fat meat would be handed over to this shady place. Just as Liao Qian was very carefully walking forward, Zhou Wen An suddenly stopped.

“What is it?”         Liao Qian turned his head over to look at him, and discovered he was raising his head to look at something in midair.

Liao Qian fixed his eyes on it, and discovered that was a half- severed, broken black-coloured wooden tablet. This half of a wooden tablet seemed to be held by the surrounding surging and chaotic force field, and was located in a strange balance. It was not swept into the many neighbouring warped and broken space crevices. Just as Liao Qian was wondering what about the half-block of wood was that good-looking, he suddenly saw that wooden tablet get pulled from the rise and fall of the changing constellations’ power, and spun a circle in midair.

The wooden tablet revolved- turns out, there were white-coloured spirit lacquered words on its surface, but because the wooden tablet was only one half, only half of the words were on it, and what was written was, “…… Jin’s place.”

What Jin’s place?

Liao Qian suddenly understood. This was a spiritual tablet. It was those deceased Jiu Xuan disciples’ spiritual tablet.
“Aye.” Liao Qian sighed, and patted this little pretty face Zhou Wen An’s shoulder. At this time, he didn’t have the nerve to say some worthless words, but without much knowledge, he could not think of some good words to comfort people, and could only stiffly say, “You…… You shouldn’t feel too bad, at worst…… at worst……”

Liao Qian bit down, and was enduring the pain from saying “At worst, I’ll fork over the money, and when we return, I’ll let you have those seniors brothers and sisters’ spiritual tablets redone”, and in the end, before he let it come out, he saw Zhou Wen An’s eyes.

He turned stunned.

That was not the gaze that an always refined and polite little pretty face should have, to suddenly turn fierce, and suddenly turn resolute…… That was the expression of a lunatic who didn’t care for anything.

Liao Qian suddenly felt it was unsettling, and at the next moment, he saw Zhou Wen An’s figure move, without caring for the surroundings’ incomparably disorderly space, and fly towards that partial wooden tablet suspended in midair.

He wanted to get that partial wooden tablet. Liao Qian’s head exploded.
That fucker! As expected, one cannot praise Jiu Xuan’s people. This flock of lunatics, even if they looked to be plain and normal on the surface, they were still madmen one would be uncertain of when would suddenly turn so relentless that they didn’t even want their lives any more.

This last-named Zhou little pretty face, this motherfucker actually didn’t even want his life just for a broken wooden tablet!

Don’t look at how that wooden tablet was finely suspended in midair, the surroundings of the wooden tablet was faintly warped with tens of spacial crevices. Did this bastard who guarded a tower for so many years not know how a place where space was warped was dangerous? He must know! This was him directly not wanting his life any more!

“Little pretty face, just what crazy thing are you up to?!”

Liao Qian suddenly understood why at the weapons storage, Zhou Wen An was able to so resolutely stay there and sacrifice his own life to cut off the rear for him. Don’t look at how this kid’s mouth was so ruthless the entire way that they were able to get people to choke on their breath, in truth, after the mishap at Qing Ming tower, after his senior brothers and sisters all died, this kid…… actually didn’t want to live any more?

Just what kind of people were they?!

Liao Qian was practically so angry he wanted to laugh. Just what lunatics were these? If your seniors die, do you not know how to take revenge? You scold someone for being a good-for-nothing, but what kind of man were you by being like this? However…… Liao Qian once again recalled, these days, Zhou Wen An was always wandering around the Qing Ming tower, and was unwilling to leave the city…… This fellow, was he constantly trying to find some new way to enter the Qing Ming tower?

But he was not like that cold Jiu Xuan Senior Bai Li. He was only an ordinary Jiu Xuan official disciple.

He could not cross through the ghost realm’s interference, nor could he safe and soundly pass through this area filled with spacial crevices.

“Fuck, tricking this old man’s feelings.”   Liao Qian cursed in a small voice, what a waste of his feelings of being moved by Zhou Wen An’s actions of righteously and selflessly cutting off the rear.

But cursing was only limited to cursing, Liao Qian’s reaction was still extremely quick. Just at the instant Liao Qian jumped out, he took out a spiritual talisman, and quickly[2] threw it towards Zhou Wen An’s figure. A line of gold light erupted, then the gold light formed into a chain and precisely wrapped itself around Zhou Wen An’s body.

Liao Qian caught the chain and forcefully pulled Zhou Wen An back. At this time, other people’s attentions were drawn over here, however, due to the reason of having warped spacial crevices all around them, without Bai Li Shu’s directions, they did not dare to carelessly move.

At the instant Liao Qian forcefully dragged Zhou Wen An back, Zhou Wen An’s hands moved, and that strange weapon in his hands resounded with a “ka cha”, then separated in the middle, and turned into two sections connected by the chains. Zhou Wen An’s hands moved, and the tip of the half-curved section of the short blade flew out along with the thin chains.

The short blade drew out a single graceful arc, and dodged the several spacial crevices, then flew towards the pitch-black spirit tablet in midair. Along with the sound of chains colliding, the chain wound two circles around the wooden tablet. Zhou Wen An pulled the chains, and pulled the wooden tablet towards himself. When Liao Qian saw this scene, he was about to let out a sigh of relief. However, he didn’t think that halfway through, the power of the stars in the air that were slowly circulating faintly like light were brought along with the wind, and laid across the pathway of the wooden tablet being pulled back.

The power of the stars that lost control was certainly a terrifying
power.

When the chains passed through the slivers of starlight that were
like flowing clouds, it silently disintegrated. Having lost the traction from the chains, the spirit tablet rotated in midair, and fell towards a spacial crevice.

Zhou Wen An staggered, then dejectedly watched as that wooden tablet in midair fall towards the warped space with faint starlight circling around.

At the instant the spirit tablet was on the verge of falling into the spacial crevice, the light of a strike flew over, and thin ice suffused with blue light appeared below the spiritual tablet out of thin air. Then, before the spiritual tablet fell into the spacial crevice, it first hit the strong layer of ice. The ice layer then fell into the spacial crevice, just like a small rock falling into the sea, not even bringing up a bit of a splash.

And then, the spiritual tablet spun in midair, and fell towards another direction.

[1] From the expression, 留得⻘⼭在, 不怕没柴烧 (by leaving a green mountain, one won’t need to be scared of not having firewood to burn), which means, where there is life, there is hope. In our context, this just means knowing to do everything to keep their own lives.

[2] The exact wording of this is, with sharp eyes and agile hands. When you think about it in contrast with his physical body…
Cayce hanya seorang mahasiswa yang kebetulan menyukai cerita silat, kesukaan cayce dengan cerita silat dimulai pada saat saya SMP. Banyak kesan tersendiri buat cayce mengenai cerita silat itu sendiri…

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