Monthly Archives: September 2018

23

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Chapter 23

Yan Ling’Er said to Jiang Le, “We have reached the banquet hall. Please find a comfortable seat and mingle well. At this point here, it is hard to miss the banquet hall. Just follow these people and they are all heading in the same direction.”

Jiang Le smiled and said, “Ling’Er, you don’t have to wait for me. I don’t know how long will this take but I can surely find my well back.”

Yan Ling’Er smiled softly as she cast him a longing glance before she walked off hastily.

Jiang Le then began to follow the dozens of protégés as he explored the place on his own.

The hallways were chatty and many of the new protégés were even excited.

He was simply glad that it seemed that he was not the last to arrive.

He had an excellent memory and it seemed that he did not recognized most of the new protégés here.

It was not a bad thing because when he had left for the Divine Warrior Hall earlier in the day, the hostile looks were in many of the protégés’ faces.

“So this is Brother Jiang?”

Jiang Le turned around and saw that it was Yang Jian who he recognized as the outspoken young man from the Iron Pioneer Sect. He was also outstanding enough to be selected to the Gold Hall.

And behind Yang Jian, Jiang Le had also recognized several new protégés that were also picked to join the Gold Hall with Yang Jian.

Jiang Le smiled weakly as he returned a bow with his hands as he said, “Brother Yang.”

Yang Jian laughed aloud as he said, “Look what we have here? It is really Brother Jiang Le here. He is the only one among all the new protégés that has been accepted into the Divine Warrior Hall and is also the first ever in the entire history of the Righteous Heaven Clan.

When Yang Jian had said that, all the new protégés around them had turned around and stared at Jiang Le!

The atmosphere around Jiang Le was suddenly tense as he sensed the envy stares that were around him.

“So that is Jiang Le? That is how he looks like? Who is he?”

All of a sudden there was a dong and someone shouted, “Hasten up. The banquet is starting soon!”

Jiang Le took the opportunity to take leave as he said hurriedly, “We ought to hurry. We can always chat later.”

But he suddenly grinned and said slyly, “This is all thanks to Brother Yang that I have got into the Divine Warrior Hall. I will surely not forget about our secret agreement…”

Then he had sped off.

Just as Yang Jian was about to halt Jiang Le, he was stopped by his own group who questioned him. “Hey Yang Jian, so you know him? What does he mean by that? What secret agreement?”

Jiang Le quickly entered the crowded banquet hall and found a seat as he covered his mouth with his sleeves. He was thinking, “Yang Jian, Yang Jian. You have tried to set me up. Now I will let you have the same taste as me.”

He quickly took a look around; there were about five hundred or so protégés. The banquet was noisy as many of the new protégés were chatting excitedly and tossing wine cups to each other. A little while later, he had spotted Yang Jian who had entered into the large banquet hall with his group but they were arguing hotly.

Jiang Le had quickly gathered that his own batch was the fifth to arrive in the Righteous Heaven Clan in the past three month. This banquet feast was held for the first to the fifth batches. That was why there were many unrecognized faces here.

A petite maiden who was sitting next to Jiang Le who had been cold to the new protégés that were enquiring her namesake and protégé hall name, had noticed Jiang Le.

She turned to Jiang Le out of boredom and said sharply, “Hey you. I have thought that I am already quite an introvert but I have someone who is next to me who is an even more introvert.”

She had noticed that whenever someone approached him, he would cough and waved them away.

She whispered, “Are you shy? You are a man. Your acting is terribly fake and you only cough when someone tries to talk to you. Say, what is your name. Maiden I, wants to know your name.”

Jiang Le coughed softly, still using his sleeve to hide his face as he ignored her by turning to the other side.

But she whispered, “I am Tiemu Aixin, the daughter of the lord of the Mythical Iron Citadel.  I have just been recently initiated into the Gold Hall. You must be Jiang Le, the upstart that has been initiated into the Divine Warrior Hall. Everyone here is looking for you and curious who you are.”

Jiang Le had heard of the Tiemu Clan. To him, it was a small clan in the eastern fraternity and was a relative unknown. It was quite a shock to him that the Mythical Iron Citadel actually have potential celestial experts in their midst. No wonder a small clan like the Mythical Iron Citadel was able to thrive for centuries.

“Hmph! What that expression on your face? You are despising my clan? You think that I cannot tell from your silly expression?”

Jiang Le protested softly, “Not that. Lower your voice. Yes, I am Jiang Le…”

Tiemu Aixin chuckled softly as she raised her wine cup, “Then let me offer a toss to the number one new protégé among us.”

Upon seeing her non-malice look, Jiang Le too raised his wine cup in return while still hiding his mouth as he said. “Maiden Aixin, a toss to you.”

Tiemu Aixin chuckled, “Now that is better.”

They were interrupted by the rapid dongs and someone shouted beyond the gates of the banquet hall, “Close the gates. No one is to be allowed into the banquet anymore.”

At the same time, Reverend Priest Luo and a beautiful lady had walked to the upper aisle of the banquet hall. Immediately the dozens of priests at the upper aisle began to bow with their hands respectfully as they said, “Our utmost respects to clan leader!”

At the arrival of Reverend Priest Luo, all the five hundred odds new protégés had also immediately stood up to bow with their hands as they said at the same time, “Our utmost respects to clan leader!”

Jiang Le naturally was among them and he was merely their lead.

He noticed that the beautiful lady was always standing side by side to Reverend Priest Luo and thought, “Don’t tell me that she is his consort?

Reverend Priest Luo raised his voice to say as he offered a toss to everyone, “Drink everyone!”

And then he said aloud, “In the continuous cosmos, the righteous force reign supreme. All of you here is here to unravel the mysteries of the cosmos and to be a celestial practitioner. The whole lots of you are from the various clans and schools. What unites you is your desire for the universal truth and the path of divinity.”

He paused for a while before continuing, “Know the rules of the Righteous Heaven Clan. One, faithful to the leadership of the clan. Two, to uphold the sword of justice against the unrighteousness. Three, to attain the universal truth. Four, be benevolent and strive to be one with the Way. Five, be respectful to the protégé clan.”

Reverend Priest Luo poured more wine into his wine cup as he said, “Let’s us toast to all the new protégés and to your future attainment!”

With that, everyone began to toast chattily as they shouted, “Let’s us toast to all the new protégés and to our future attainment!”

Reverend Priest Luo laughed aloud and said, “I shall await your achievements in the months and years ahead. There is a hunter expedition in three month time; I hope that you will be able to shine in that performance. Now I shall leave the new protégés to mingle and to feast.”

As Jiang Le watched Reverend Priest Luo and the consort exited the banquet hall, he thought, “Hunter expedition? What is that?”

Tiemu Aixin had turned to smile at him, “I shall wait to see your skills and performance at the hunter expedition. I have heard that it is going to be a dangerous expedition and not everyone will be able to join. I hope that you do not chicken out for the hunter expedition or even dies in it.”

At which Jiang Le replied sarcastically, “I hope that you won’t be the one chickening up or I will be the one saving your life later.”

Tiemu Aixin laughed softly as her eyes lit up beautifully, “We shall see then.”

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22

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Chapter 22

Jiang Le did not want to attend the banquet that was held for the new protégés. Instead he decided to spend the night in one of the great halls of the Divine Warrior Hall. He was suddenly troubled and even lonely.

He was alone now.

He had never imagined that he could escape from the troublesome maidens of the Eternal Virtue Sect but now they had all left on their own accord, leaving him alone to pursue the path of divinity.

He was not exactly alone but now he was feeling that he was. He was beginning to miss their company and their openness to him. Unlike this new place, the people here seemed more guarded and more reserved as though they were guarding against him at the same time. Even Yan Ling’Er the attendant did not really said much to him.

And now that they had left, he began to think that they were the ones that were sincere to him and really regard him as their junior protégé brother.

He began to wonder how long he has to stay in this place; ten years, few dozen years or a hundred years or even more?

That fight with the monster hulk that had them fought together touched his heart and he was feeling a little remorse.

He was feeling like a smart aleck when he had first met them, even though he was in a dire situation. He suppressed his abilities and revealed only as he seemed fit. But they had already seen through his act and were deliberately pushing him to the limits to provoke him to reveal his true strength. He had thought he had fooled them and now he felt like he was the real fool.

Was he wrong to do so?

In the martial fraternity, if he was not cautious, he would be setup by the more treacherous and experienced experts or even be killed.

Was he wrong to try to preserve his own life?

Suddenly his thoughts were interrupted by his groaning stomach. He realized that he had not taken a bite for a few days!

“Weird I have not eaten and only now I am hungry?”

He looked around him and smiled weakly. It was because he realized that there was no food in the Divine Warrior Hall and he had not been introduced to any cook or kitchen.

“What am I supposed to eat? Don’t tell me that I am supposed to steal food from the other halls of the Righteous Heaven Clan?”

Now he was beginning to detest this place and missed the company of the maidens of the Eternal Virtual Sect. Even though they were constantly aloof and even poke fun at him but they had ensured that he had his most basic needs and even guide him. His internal strength had even improved considerably with them as they forced him to his limits.

He sighed softly as he took a gulp from his wine skin. At least he could quench his thirst with his precious wine. He guessed that he had no other choice but to attend the banquet tonight. He was really hungry.

He took out the two bamboo slips and the White Lofty Pristine Ring.

“The Celestial Oracle says that this ring is able to store items? How is it possible?”

He stared at the ring and imagined that he could put his bamboo slips into the ring. But nothing happened.

“I have to imagine a spatial space. What is a spatial space…”

He just anyhow imagined the ring had a black hole within it as he hit the bamboo slips on the ring. All of a sudden his bamboo slips had disappeared!

He was suddenly staring at the ring and he was panicky. He had just lost two of his most precious manuals and he was horrified!

“How do I get it back? How do I get it back?”

He felt like he had suddenly jumped from the peak of a mountain to a bottomless abyss!

But he quickly regained his composure and tried to convince himself, “If I can put them into the ring then I may just be able to get it back. Didn’t the Celestial Oracle says that this ring is able to store items? And if I can store my items then I can very well get it back…”

He put his hand next to the ring and imagined himself reaching into the ring and taking out two bamboo slips. True enough, the two bamboo slips appeared in his hands again!

He was excited as he quickly checked the contents of the manuals to ensure that he had not lost the two precious manuals. After ensuring himself of that, he practiced a few times as he put the precious manuals in and out of the ring until he was proficient.

He stared at the ring, “How is it possible for such a thing to exist in the world?”

He became convinced that he wanted to know about the mysteries of the world and beyond. Reaching the apex of the swordplay was no longer his goal now. He had to go beyond that and go to stranger lands and challenge the Celestials.

“My scope of the fraternity is so narrow in the past. What good is there for me to stand at the peak of the mortals when I can stand at the peak of the celestial practitioners? And maybe one day I can even be a Celestial when I transmigrate to the mythical Celestial Realm? I wonder what it is like to be a Celestial one day…”

With these exciting notions in his thoughts, he began to open the bamboo slip of the Perfect Swordplay as he studied through it.

Time passed, probably a few hours had already passed according to his estimate as he took a breather.

There were altogether nine levels to the Perfect Swordplay. The first three levels were the initial level of the Perfect Swordplay, fourth to sixth level was the Intermediate level of the Perfect Swordplay and the last three levels were the advance level of the Perfect Swordplay.

At the initial level, the movements of the Perfect Swordplay required the practitioner to blend in any two combinations of Attack, Defense, Speed and Movement. The intermediate level required any three combinations of Attack, Defense, Speed and Movement while the advance level required a full combination.

Because Jiang Le was already an accomplished swordsman, he quickly found himself at the fourth level of the Perfect Swordplay as he practiced through the first three levels of the Perfect Swordplay.

Now the forth level of the Perfect Swordplay was not as easy as he initial thought and he was even perplexed. Even the most basic attack stance of the forth level of the Perfect Swordplay, he was struggling to get it right.

He flipped his sword as he displayed a forward sword stance as he muttered, “Attack as one with the sword energy, attack as one with your martial power…”

How could anyone muster his martial power and internal vital energies at the same time?

Sword energies required a startling foundation in internal strength and in order for internal strength to reach the level that a practitioner could use sword energies, this required superior vital energies and intense focus.

Was this not an impossible swordplay?

If he could muster his martial power and vital energies to power his sword energies, then would not he be the number one swordsman in the entire martial fraternity already?

He had spent years pursuing the apex of swordplay and had challenged countless number of sword experts using his fraternity name of Huangfu Chuiyuan. And now the secret of the ultimate swordplay was in his hands!

All of a sudden he had a thought, “If the Celestial Oracle can give me the Perfect Swordplay so casually, does it mean that she has already learnt the contents? If she has then what is her level in the Perfect Swordplay? If she is able to guide me or two then it will be good. After all, she is the one that wants to accept me as her disciple and not the other way round. Surely my new protégé mistress is not a scholar and simply accepts me as a disciple only to ask me to self-study…”

He began to smile bitterly at that thought for he knew that his new protégé mistress had explicitly said that he was not to disturb her meditation for the next three months.

As he sheathed his sword and was about to read the Absolute Heart Intricate Verses, he chanced upon his reflection in the mirror and was stunned; he could not recognize himself!

The pupils of his eyes were a little red but he had been informed of it so that was not really a surprise to him. But he had appeared to be several years younger and this reminded him of the time when he was sixteen. He pinched his skin and he now noticed that his skin was elastic and smooth like an infant. But his features were even more refined. There was even certain handsomeness in him and the fats in his cheekbones were gone.

He stared at himself, “What is going on? I have suddenly become a super handsome guy even though I have always thought that I am handsome enough. And my looks are so young now? Oh man, I want my mature look back. I am not going to shame myself in front of the ladies as a baby face guy…”

Just as he was staring at the mirror, he noticed a hovering light outside the huge entrance of the hall. The hovering light was swinging left and right beyond the premises of the Divine Warrior Hall. His curiosity was aroused as he thought, “Who is outside at this time of the night?”

Since he was bored and hungry, he decided to check the source of the light.

It took him no time for him to find the source of the light as he appeared in front of Yan Ling’Er who was carrying a lamp.

He asked, “It is you?”

Yan Ling’Er nodded with her head respectfully as she said softly, “I dare not enter the Divine Warrior Hall so I stay near the bridge here and can only resort to this method to get your attention.”

Jiang Le was surprised as he asked, “You are looking for me?”

Yan Ling’Er nodded and showed him a small basket of buns as she replied, “I am here to bring you some food should you need it. At the same time, I am here to bring you to the banquet.”

Jiang Le seized one of the buns like a hungry wolf and popped it into his mouth. He was already famished and even more hungry after his sword practice, as he gobbled thankfully. “You are my lifesaver. Oh that banquet, I have almost forgotten about it. Maybe I may attend the banquet after all. I am so hungry…”

Yan Ling’Er gave a faint smile as she said, “It is better for the new protégés to attend the banquet and to get to know your fellow protégés at the same time. Moreover, it is disrespectful to our clan leader Reverend Priest Luo if you don’t go.”

Jiang Le nodded, “True…”

But all of a sudden he said, “Weird. After one bun, I don’t feel hungry anymore…”

Yan Ling’Er replied coolly, “Naturally, you won’t. That is the difference between us. You are a celestial practitioner while I am just a mortal. You don’t need to eat or drink as much as we do. It is not uncommon for celestial practitioners to go without food and water for months and even years.”

Jiang Le was feeling a little awkward. It was because he knew that Yan Ling’Er was emphasizing to him that they were different and it was impossible for them to even become friends.

So he said firmly, “We are friends, alright? One day, we will all be dust. So what is the difference between us? It is just a matter of time, whether it is sooner or later.”

Yan Ling’Er had turned around and said, “It is getting late. We ought to hurry. It won’t be too good if we are the last. Others may think that you are insolent if you’re late. There are already plenty of gossips about you ever since you are accepted into the Divine Warrior Hall for this has never happened before.”

Jiang Le laughed and said, “So we are friends now? If you hear any interesting gossips about me then can you share with me?”

Yan Ling’Er giggled and smiled, “You’re so thick skin. Most of the gossips about you are negative and you won’t be happy to hear about it.”

Jiang Le laughed out, “You have got that precisely right. I am truly thick skin. So we are friends?”

Yan Ling’Er looked at him for a stunned moment before she nodded lightly, “If you don’t really mind…”

Jiang Le interrupted with a laugh, “Friends don’t mind anything. Friends fight and argue. Friends are opened to each other. We are friends, alright?”

Yan Ling’Er nodded and said, “Friends then.”

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21

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Chapter 21

Once Jiang Le was out of the Divine Warrior Hall, he had chanced upon Yan Ling’Er again. He quickly said to her, “Maiden Ling’Er, I am not familiar with this place. Can you lead me to my friends?”

Yan Ling’Er nodded and simply said, “As you wish.”

Jiang Le followed Ling’Er to another grand building where he could see her making quick enquiries to the other attendants before she said quietly, “They are still in the guest hall.”

Very soon, they had reached another building on another peak. Along the way, Jiang Le was impressed by what he had seen; there were hundreds of protégés practicing their swordplay and fists all over. Moreover it was unreal as the scenery of the mountains and dozens of palace buildings were equally captivating.

Ling’Er said softly, “They should be in there. I will wait here for you. Just in case, you are lost.”

Jiang Le bowed with his hands respectfully, “Thank you Maiden Ling’Er…”

Yan Ling’Er lowered her head and said firmly, “You need not address me as such. I am merely an ordinary attendant. Just Ling’Er will do.”

Jiang Le patted her softly on her shoulder and said, “In my eyes, you are not merely a servant. You are probably my first friend in this place. You don’t mind having me as your friend?”

Yan Ling’Er simply said, “Friend? To an esteem noble such as you? I am just an easily forgettable person.”

Jiang Le said firmly, “Never! You are my friend and I will never forget about you. That is a promise. I swear by the heavens!”

Yan Ling’Er looked at the ground as she said slowly, “As you wish then.”

Jiang Le smiled awkwardly for he could not tell if she was delighted or unhappy. So he said gently to her, “I will be back very soon. Please wait for me. I am sure that we are going to be the best of friends.”

Yan Ling’Er nodded but said nothing.

Jiang Le heaved a soft sigh as he entered the guest hall.

It took him no time to find Qingshuang, Xia Ji and Xue Ji. Even Priest Qu Daoqing was also present.

As soon as Priest Qu Daoqing saw Jiang Le, he immediately greeted excitedly, “Brother Jiang!”

Jiang Le returned the greeting, “Brother Qu!”

Qu Daoqing said, “Brother Jiang is so lucky to have entered the Divine Warrior Hall. I am only in the Gold Hall. Have you met the Celestial Oracle?”

He lowered his voice and whispered, “What does she look like?”

Xue Ji chipped in mischievously, “She must be a beautiful lady!”

Qingshuang growled softly and Xue Ji immediately kept quiet.

Jiang Le smiled bitterly and said, “Not really. She spoke behind a curtain.”

He did not mention that the next time that the Celestial Oracle would see him was going to be in three month time.

Priest Qu Daoqing smiled and said, “It is just a sooner or later thing. You’re her direct protégé disciple and you have plenty of chances.”

Jiang Le smiled weakly, “True, true…”

Qingshuang suddenly said gently, “Jiang Le, we are leaving now.”

Jiang Le was startled, “You’re leaving?”

Qingshuang nodded and said gently, “We’re going to the Sacred Sword Manor to borrow your clan heavenly relic.”

All of a sudden Jiang Le was awkward but he soon regained his composure and said, “I don’t know if my father will allow you but let me write a letter to him. Also, please tell him not to worry about me. Please tell my mother that I am not a filial son at all. And tell my second brother to take care of my parents…alas…”

He was suddenly at a loss on what to say.

It was because he had already known the situation that he was now at. He was now embarking on the path of cultivation and there was no stopping him. He had to practice the Dragon Force, the Perfect Swordplay and the Absolute Heart Intricate Verses. There were celestial opponents that were powerful beyond his imagination and there were martial skills that were out of this world. All these, he was eager to explore and to know.

He knew with a sad heart that he had forever departed from the martial fraternity. From now on, Huangfu Chuiyuan would disappear from the martial fraternity and Jiang Le the celestial practitioner would appear in the celestial fraternity!

Xia Ji looked at Priest Qu Daoqing and said softly, “Farewell, Brother Qu!”

Priest Qu Daoqing was startled and he said quickly, “Maiden Xia, you are also leaving? But you have not recovered. Why don’t you rest here for the time being and I will promise you that I will escort you back…”

Xia Ji interrupted with a soft smile, “My protégé aunt will protect me. My injuries are not too terrible and I can still cope against most of the martial experts. Please don’t worry for me, alright?”

Priest Qu Daoqing was stammering as he said, “I…I think…” but he could find no words to make her stay…

Jiang Le, Qingshuang and Xue Ji were all looking at each other. They could all tell that Priest Qu Daoqing had eyes only for Xia Ji and was particularly attentive to her.

Xia Ji punched Priest Qu Daoqing gently on his chest as she smiled affectionately, “Maybe it is just a short farewell. You are a highly attained celestial practitioner while I am still a lowly attained celestial practitioner. It may be a long time before I can catch up with you. Who knows I may need your help as my guardian to help me to ward off my divine calamities. Will you still help me?”

Priest Qu Daoqing replied solemnly, “No matter how many times, no matter how treacherous it is, I will be there for you.”

Xia Ji and Priest Qu Daoqing looked at each other silently, not saying a word. It seemed that all the others did not exist.

Qingshuang began to walk quietly away and her heart was sorrowful. She thought, “They have just crossed a dangerous line. Don’t they want to ascend as Celestials? Will I be like Xia Ji one of these days?”

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20

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Chapter 20

Jiang Le was led to a lofty peak and the golden roofs of a palace could be seen.

A young maiden who was the attendant merely said to him, “This is the Divine Warrior Hall. The Celestial Oracle is inside.”

Jiang Le asked with an amused smile, “Why didn’t the Celestial Oracle see me earlier when we are in the testing hall? And now we have to walk all the way here to see her?”

The young maiden who was walking with her head lowered all this while began to lift her eyes to look at Jiang Le, “You are merely trying to provoke a reaction from me. Am I right?”

Jiang Le laughed softly, “Maiden, you are indeed intelligent. What is your name? I am…”

The young maiden interrupted softly, “Jiang Le. Even though you are a newcomer, everyone knows your name. You are infamous now. I am merely a lowly servant in the clan and not a protégé. Even though I am merely sixteen but eventually I will grow old unlike you. The Celestial Oracle as far as I have known have never ventured outside the Divine Warrior Hall and no one has ever seen her. Maybe for you, you are the exception. When you have heard her earlier, is merely her divine whisper that she has cast from the Divine Warrior Hall. There will be many strange and wondrous things in the future that you will be witnessing and this will be one of the things that you will soon grow accustomed to it.”

Jiang Le was slightly taken by this young maiden as she gave him a soft admonishment. He found himself more amused than anger by her as he smiled to her, “What is your name?”

The young maiden turned around and lowered her head once again. As she walked away, she whispered, “Yan Ling’Er.”

Jiang Le repeated her name as he climbed the steps to the lofty peak, “Yan Ling’Er. What an interesting maiden. Jiang Le, Jiang Le, you are not a man now. You should not have any romantic notions anymore.”

Soon he had reached the gates of the Divine Warrior Hall and was awed by the towering pillars and the airy atmosphere. From here, he could see hundreds of peaks and other buildings of the Righteous Heaven Clan. No doubt, he was at the highest peak.

Soon he was asking himself a question, “If the Revered Priest Luo is the clan leader then what the hierarchy rank of the Celestial Oracle is? Why is that even the Reverend Priest Luo seems to be deferent to her?”

As he walked the empty hall of the Divine Warrior Hall, he could hear his steps. This place was so huge and there were many corridors. He soon became confuse where he should go…

Just as he was pondering where to go, a musical voice echoed enchantingly. “Walk to the right. This is the Pondering Courtyard. I am there.”

Jiang Le did as he was told and he soon found himself in a beautiful garden with many streams flowing through it. There were flowers and trees of many kinds, mostly red, pink and scarlet. It seemed that the person tendering to this garden had paid a great deal of attention to it.

In the middle of the garden was a pavilion with many brightly hued curtains and Jiang Le could see a shadowy figure beyond.

He thought, “So this is the Celestial Oracle?”

He quickly bowed with his hands respectfully as he said, “Jiang Le pays my respects to the Celestial Oracle…”

“…protégé mistress,” he quickly corrected himself.

The shadowy figure seemed to nod as she said enchantingly, “You have a fine divine sword with you. What’s more at such a young celestial age, you have actually divine harmonized with it. Divine swords are highly coveted in the Celestial Fraternity. Be sure that you do not lose it.”

Jiang Le smiled weakly as he replied, “I will remember this.”

The Celestial Oracle added, “It seems that someone has imparted the Dragon Force to you.”

Jiang Le was startled as he asked, “You know?”

The Celestial Oracle replied, “I have merely sense the desolate force that is within you. It will take plenty of discipline to control the desolate force of the Dragon Force or else it will be easy for you to fall into the entropy side. It may be too dangerous for you to display at your present level.”

She continued, “Now tell me, why do you want to be a celestial practitioner? What make you think you deserve to be in the Divine Warrior Hall?”

Jiang Le gritted his teeth and said, “I don’t know!”

That was the truth. He really did not know!

He lifted his sorrowful eyes and said, “However I do know that I want to be stronger. I have to defeat him and avenge myself!”

The Celestial Oracle asked, “Who is he?”

Jiang Le clenched his fists as he replied, “He calls himself the Desolate Old Man!”

The Celestial Oracle probed further, “Why do you hate him so much?”

Jiang Le began to tremble as he lost his composure, “He…he has made me into an impotent man!”

The Celestial Oracle said gently, “Therefore you want to be celestial practitioner so that you can avenge yourself?”

Jiang Le nodded and his eyes were upset as he recalled his defeat, “Indeed! If I can find him again, I will fight him to the death!”

The Celestial Oracle said gently and her enchanting voice was mesmerizing, “What if I were to ask you to forget your vendetta and to aspire fully onto the celestial path?”

Jiang Le replied bluntly, “Then I will leave because it is impossible for me to do so.”

The Celestial Oracle seemed to lower her head for a while to ponder before she said gently, “You are honest. More honest than most of the righteous celestial practitioners that are here. If you wish to do so, then shall it be. But never forget that you are a celestial practitioner. Do not stray to the dark side.”

Jiang Le nodded awkwardly for he was expecting a reproach but he got none from her.

The Celestial Oracle asked gently as she seemed to look into the heavens, “So what do you know of the Righteous Heaven Clan?”

Jiang Le smiled weakly, “Actually, not very much except that it is the leading celestial clan in the celestial fraternity. It seems like a dream that I am here today.”

The Celestial Oracle said gently, “The Righteous Heaven Clan has been around for around eight hundred years. Not the oldest but a relatively newcomer to the celestial fraternity. The founder of the Righteous Heaven Clan is the Heaveness and your silver token is from her. Did she say anything to you?”

Jiang Le was perplexed as he listened to the Celestial Oracle awkwardly before he answered, “Actually I did not see her personally. I was actually unconscious at that time. I was told that she had saved me from the Desolate Old Man and that she had left a silver tablet behind for me.”

The Celestial Oracle nodded lightly before she said, “I am the direct protégé disciple of the Heaveness. And now you are my direct protégé disciple. Next time when you have seen the Heaveness, you must address her respectfully as your grand protégé mistress. Since my protégé mistress has directed you to me then I am obligated to guide you.”

Jiang Le was listening as she worded it matter of fact.

The Celestial Oracle seemed to take out two bamboo slips as she casted it out of the curtain. The two bamboo slips began to spin slowly in front of Jiang Le who caught the two bamboo slips in his hands as the she said gently, “Study these two martial arts on your own. I will check on your progress in three month time. On no account must you step into this garden and bother me. Your protégé mistress does not like to be disturbed and will like to be quiet. You are free to explore the other halls and chambers as you seem fit. But you must not allow anyone to trespass into the Divine Warrior Hall. Once a week, you shall check the Messenger Hall for my messages to the clan and delivered it to Yan Ling’Er. Is that understood?”

Jiang Le smiled awkwardly as he thought, “What a lousy protégé mistress that I have just got? I have not even seen her face and now she is dismissing me already to self-study?”
But he quickly bowed respectfully, “I have acknowledged protégé mistress’ will.”

The Celestial Oracle suddenly threw a small object out of the curtain and as Jiang Le caught it, he saw that it was a white jade ring.

She said enchantingly, “This is the White Lofty Pristine Ring. It is capable of storing a thousand small objects. All you need is to wear the ring and envisioned the spatial space that is within. You will be able to put and take your things at will inside. Last and not all, there will be a clan celebration for everyone initiation tonight. Go and bide your clan and friends goodbye for after today, you won’t be able to see any of them for quite some time.”

Jiang Le examined the ring and he was in awe of the ring capabilities as he thought, “Really? A ring that can store a thousand objects? Is this a joke or what? I have never heard of such a thing at all.”

Just as he was about to examine the ring further, he had caught the name of one of the bamboo slip that read the Perfect Swordplay. Immediately his curiosity was invoked and he quickly opened the bamboo slip to read the first line, “The Perfect Swordplay; the epitome of perfectly attack, defense, speed and movement…”

His eyes began to glow as he examined the bamboo and he was suddenly excited, “This sword manual is just the impossible! In the martial fraternity, it is the secret epitome level in swordplay and it can cause the entire martial fraternity to be in bloody turmoil.”

He took a quick look again and recited in his heart, “The perfect attack is a multitude of readings that incorporates both defense and speed. The withdrawal stroke is a triple blend of speed, defense and movement…the flying stance, the weakening feint, the fairy defense…”

He cursed softly in his heart, “If I have known these stances earlier, maybe I would not be best by that insolent Desolate Old Man…”

He took a look at the second bamboo slip and the title was the ‘The Absolute Heart Intricate Verses’. With trembling fingers, he opened the bamboo slip and read it silently, “The Absolute Heart Intricate; Absolute Attack, Absolute Defense, Absolute Spirit, Absolute Speed, Absolute Reflex. The masterful essence of the conditioning the spirits to do the impossible…”

His new protégé mistress had just handed him two of the most secret epitome arts that the martial fraternity would all be coveting and just one of the bamboo slip could easily propel anyone to be a super exponent in a short while!

Just as he was about to thank his protégé mistress, he saw that she was no longer behind the curtains.

He sighed softly as he began to walk away; his hands were trembling as he held onto the two bamboo slips. Finally he could see a glimmer of hope in defeating the Desolate Old Man!

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19

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Chapter 19:

It was a full three days before they had reached the Heaven Gate of the Righteous Heaven Clan.

The Heaven Gate was a flight of steps leading to the top of the mountains.

Jiang Le could count thousands of steps and he could not see anything beyond it. He was a little awe by the towering white marble pillars of the Heaven Gate.

No sooner had they caught sight of the Heaven Gate, a group of priests with swords had immediately appeared into their view in an alarming manner. But when they saw Qu Daoqing, they immediately lowered their guard and bowed respectfully with their hands to say, “Priest Qu, welcome back!”

All the priests were looking at the stirring beauty of Qingshuang, Xue Ji and Xia Ji and were stammering, “They are…”

Jiang Le thought, “Even priests can be moved by secular emotions. Then they must be equivalent or below the rank of the Emotion Level then.”

Qu Daoqing returned a hand bow to them and said politely, “They are guests. I will escort them personally to the great hall.”

Immediately, they lined out neatly in two columns to welcome Jiang Le and his group!
Jiang Le said to Qu Daoqing, “These priests, their swiftness movement skills are not weak and are ranked among the top tier of the martial fraternity. I can never imagine such a large group of such exponents in the martial fraternity. This small group here is enough to contend with a major martial clan in the martial fraternity. This place is full of crouching tigers and hidden dragons.”

Qu Daoqing smiled weakly, “Brother Jiang, you heap too much praises on us. Come, let’s us hurry to the grand hall first.”

Soon, they had reached the entrance of the grand hall.

The grand hall had a golden roof and the platform steps were made of white stones.

Their group had invited a number of awestruck stares that were directed at the beautiful Qingshuang the Verdant Scarlet Fairy before they had stepped into the grand hall.

When they had stepped into the grand hall, their presence had immediately stirred up plenty of attention from the crowd inside.

Jiang Le noticed that the grand hall was more crowded than he had anticipated.

Qu Daoqing was immediately greeted by a priest in similar attire as him, “Brother Priest Qu, they must be the external protégés that you have brought?”

Qu Daoqing bowed with his hands in return, “Indeed Brother Priest Wuji. You have found yours?”

Priest Wuji nodded and pointed at the three young men that were standing nearby, “Indeed. However they are mortals that I have found in a nearby village. Whether they have the celestial potential still remains to be seen. What about yours? I can see that you have found some really good candidates.”

Qu Daoqing smiled weakly, “Actually there is just one and is accompanying him on this trip. Moreover I am lucky to be directed by the Celestial Oracle.”

Priest Wuji looked in the direction of Jiang Le and said, “The Celestial Oracle? That means that they have the Silver Token and is the predestined one. This is going to be interesting.”

He bowed politely in the direction of Jiang Le and smiled to Qu Daoqing, “You are just in time. The acceptance ceremony is about to start soon. If you are late then you have to wait for another month.”

Jiang Le approached them and said, “What all this blabbering? I am Jiang Le. Is there anything that you can’t say in front of us? Or are the protégés of the Righteous Heaven Clan are all so haughty and regard themselves too highly?”

Priest Wuji smiled weakly and said, “Not at all.”

Qingshuang smiled politely and said, “Jiang Le, don’t be rude and be respectful to your seniors.”

Jiang Le shrugged his shoulders and replied, “I apologize.”

Priest Wuji immediately said, “Not at all.”

He bowed respectfully to Qingshuang and said, “Priest Wuji pays my respects to respected senior, we are glad that an eminent celestial practitioner such as you is here to visit us. May I have the honor to know your celestial name and clan of origin?”

Qingshuang replied coolly, “You may address me as the Verdant Scarlet Fairy, from the Eternal Virtue Sect.”

Priest Wuji bowed in acknowledgement and replied, “The Eternal Virtue Sect has a long history and is a reputable celestial clan.”

Xue Ji hummed coldly, “It sounds like fanciful words. We know that our celestial clan is a relative unknown nowadays and that the Righteous Heaven Clan is currently the leading celestial clan. Like all the other celestial clans, we are here to witness the glory of the Righteous Heaven Clan and to pay homage.”

Even though she was soft spoken, she had immediately attracted a number of amused looks. It was because there were also a number of other celestial clans that were presented in the grand hall. While it was true that many were here to pay their homage to the Righteous Heaven Clan as the leading celestial clan, many were also here due to grudging respect and were not entirely convinced.

Xue Ji turned to look at Priest Qu Daoqing and smiled, “Priest Qu, am I right?”

Priest Qu Daoqing was aware that there were quite a number of people that were looking at him for his reply and he knew that he had to be careful with his words. So he replied, “There is no small or big celestial clan. All of us belong to the celestial fraternity and should work toward the greater good. We should seek cultivation as our only goal and aspire to a greater state of divinity.”

When he had said that, there were a sense of shame and plenty of downcast eyes.

A man said aloud, “That’s right. We are all training to be celestial practitioners and striving to be celestials. The reason why we are here is because the Righteous Heaven Clan is willing to forgo sectarian divides and to forge a celestial future with everyone.”

“Well said. What is your name?” An old priest asked as he walked into the grand hall as he was accompanied by a group of ten priests.

Priest Qu Daoqing, Priest Wuji and the protégés of the Righteous Heaven Clan who were in the grand hall immediately bowed with their hands and greeted aloud, “Our respects to Grandmaster Reverend Priest Luo!”

The man who had just spoken began to stammer, “He is Reverend Priest Luo, the Grandmaster of the Righteous Heaven Clan?”

He quickly regained his composure and bowed with his hands, “I am Yang Jian, protégé of the Iron Pioneer Sect.”

Reverend Priest Luo stroked his long white beard as he smiled, “What a promising young man!”

Reverend Priest Luo smiled as he looked at Jiang Le. Obviously he had heard him even though it was a whisper. He smiled and said, “It seem that this batch of candidates are slightly different from the previous batches.”

Jiang Le could not tell if Reverend Priest Luo was mocking him or otherwise. Therefore he could only smile awkwardly.

Reverend Priest Luo began to scan the grand hall and said aloud, “I am Reverend Priest Luo, grandmaster of the Righteous Heaven Clan. Today we have the ten elders of the Righteous Heaven Clan here to select celestial protégés according to their calibers. The elders of the Metallic Halls, Halls of the Gold, Silver and Bronze Halls will only take in the candidates that have the silver tokens. The elders of the Chromium Halls, Halls of the Yellow, Red, Purple, Blue, White, Green and Black will take in the candidates that have the bronze tokens. Let the candidates with the silver and bronze tokens to come forward, those carrying the silver tokens to stand on the left and the bronze to stand on the right.”

Jiang Le walked to the left and soon found himself in the company of about thirty men and women and saw that there were about two hundred others that were standing on the right.

Reverend Priest Luo stroked his long beard and laughed aloud, “It seems that this time round we have quite a number of silver tokens candidates. Let the silver token candidates come forward and put your hand into the holy water of the urn. The holy water will then determine your latent celestial potential by its intensity and you will join the Gold, Silver and Bronze Halls accordingly.”

A man that was nearest to the urn mustered his courage and walked cautiously to the urn before saying aloud, “I will be the first then.”

Slowly in front of the others, he began to put his hand into the water of the urn. Almost immediately, a faint blue light began glow to from the holy water as the others watched in awe.

Reverend Priest Luo nodded and said, “You can proceed to join the Bronze Hall.”

The man looked disappointed and cursed softly, “This isn’t fair.”

The man behind him smiled and walked to the urn to put his hand into the urn. No sooner had he put his hand into the urn, it began to glow brightly.

Reverend Priest Luo said, “Proceed to the Gold Hall.”

Jiang Le saw that he was third in line so he took a step forward. He took a peek the water in the urn and saw that it was crystal clear. Just as he was about to put his hand into the water, a feminine voice that came from behind the curtains of the grand hall said musically. “Let him join the Divine Warrior Hall.”

Immediately there was a great commotion in the hall and even the Reverend Priest Luo was surprised as he looked at the curtains behind him!

Priest Qu Daoqing muttered, “The Divine Warrior Hall has never been known to accept any protégés. Not even a protégé of the Righteous Heaven Clan has ever been initiated into it and moreover it is hall of the Mistress of the Celestial Oracle…”

Xue Ji asked Priest Qu, “Oh really?”

Priest Qu Daoqing replied solemnly, “Not for the past five hundred years as far as I have known. Moreover the Celestial Oracle has rarely interfered in the affairs of the clan. This is the first time that I have seen her spoke directly as a matter of fact.”

Xue Ji replied, “This is strange indeed.”

Reverend Priest Luo regained his composure and bowed respectfully with his hands, “Since the Celestial Oracle has spoken, naturally we will oblige but may I know why?”
Quite a number of candidates began to mutter incessantly, “This is unfair. We deserve to know why. Why is he given a special treatment? Who is he?”

Jiang Le was beginning to feel a little awkward by the attention and he said loudly, “I don’t really bother by which halls that I am going.”

The voice of the Celestial Oracle said slowly, “Do you mind showing your silver token?”

Jiang Le was puzzled as he took out his silver token as he lifted it up, “You mean this thing?”

Immediately Reverend Priest Luo turned pale as he asked solemnly, “How did you get this silver token?”

Jiang Le growled unhappily because he did not want to recall his unhappy experiences.

He merely said, “Someone just gives it to me and insist that I make the trip here.”

Reverend Priest Luo seemed dissatisfied with the answer but he said, “Proceed to the Divine Warrior Hall.”

Immediately quite a few of the candidates began to mutter unhappily with the decision and said, “We don’t even see his potential yet and he is allowed to join the Divine Warrior Hall?”

The voice of the Celestial Oracle said, “You may put your hand into the sacred urn.”

Jiang Le did as he was told as he rubbed his hand before putting his hand into the urn.

Immediately the water in the urn began to boil and there was a brilliant light that flared blindingly in the hall!

Priest Qu Daoqing was stunned as he said startlingly, “Brother Jiang must be a one in a million. In all my years I have never seen a light that shone as brilliant!”

Even Jiang Le was startled by it as he quickly took out his hand from the burbling water, “This is my celestial potential?”

The voice of the Celestial Oracle said musically, “Since he has the silver token of the Heaveness, he deserves to be in the Divine Warrior Hall and I will be his protégé mistress from now on.”

Reverend Priest Luo looked at Jiang Le and stammered, “Indeed…indeed this is the silver token of the Heaveness.”

He turned and looked intently at Jiang Le and asked, “What is your name?”

Jiang Le smiled weakly and said, “My name is Jiang Le.”

Somehow he was shifting uncomfortably as he noticed that hundreds of hostile eyes were looking at him as they muttered and remembered his name by heart.

He thought, “Am I jumping from one hot pan to the other?”

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