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.”