Category Archives: A Celestial Odyssey

ACO 21

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Book 2

Chapter 21: Holy Enigma City

Holy Enigma City.

Lu Xiankai asks, “Xingyun, what is that you want to show me?”

Xingyun smiles alluringly as they walk in the secret passage, “I’m taking you into my clan’s secret chamber. Away from prying eyes and ears, it is much more convenient for us to talk.”

She adds, “Other than me, no one has ever been allowed into this secret chamber for it is our clan sacred ground. I’ve made you an elder of the Holy Enigma City. With your attainment as an Immortal Celestial, it seems that the clan elders are quite pleased with your appointment.”

It is an understatement. It seems that the elders of the Holy Enigma City are actually quite docile when she had announced that she was going to appoint him as an elder. Lu Xiankai had been expecting a major upheaval and a heated discussion; after all he is an outsider and did not have any celestial blood ties with the elders.

It seems that the elders of the clan have high regards for Feiyue Xingyun and whenever she started to speak, they would nod attentively.

And so Lu Xiankai was made an elder of the Holy Enigma City, just like that.

Feiyue Xingyun taps on a wall before pushing against the brick on the wall to reveal a secret chamber as she says, “C’mon in.”

As Feiyue Xingyun slowly lit the candles, Lu Xiankai can see that the chamber is actually quite spacious. There is even a bed chamber, tables, chairs and rows of book shelves.

She says gently as she browses the book shelf, “Have a seat first.”

Lu Xiankai sits down but he is soon saying, “From now on, should I address you as Great Immortal or Holy Consort?”

Holy Consort is the title for the Grandmaster of the Holy Enigma City.

Feiyue Xingyun says without turning back, “Not Great Immortal. I don’t wish for the others to know that I’ve attained as a Golden Celestial. You may address me as Xingyun. If there are others, then you stick to my honorific title. You are a Great Saint and your status is higher than I. If you don’t mind, can I call you Xiankai? It is more…”

She lowers her eyes and says softly, “…intimate this way.”

Lu Xiankai says, “I don’t mind.”

He quickly adds, “Why are you concealing your celestial level? If you have made known to the other celestial clans that you’re a Golden Celestial then the Holy Enigma City won’t be belittled and you will also gain the prestige that accompanies your title.”

She sighs softly, “The Holy Enigma City isn’t a big clan as compare to the olden days. We don’t have a lot of celestial practitioners either.”

Lu Xiankai says, “The Holy Enigma City seems to be a bigger city than the Tearless City.”

Xingyun smiles, “Maybe that is the only achievement that we have. Do you see a lot of protégés just now?”

Without waiting for Lu Xiankai to answer, she continues. “That is because we are a pure celestial clan. We are still sticking to the old ways therefore we are not as powerful as the other celestial clans that greatly outnumber us. The ordinary men should be free to lead their own ordinary lives, don’t you think so?”

Lu Xiankai nods slowly as he adds, “The Celestials should instead be protecting them from the demonic beasts and the dark celestial practitioners.”

Xingyun smiles, “That is the principle of the Holy Enigma City. As long as they are able to lead peaceful lives, I will be glad.”

Lu Xiankai sighs softly, “Then you should try to take care of yourself more and not get into more reckless fights. The people need you…”

Xingyun smiles, “Oh? Are you concern about me then?”

She says melancholy, “Our clan is not wealthy and we don’t have many fighters that can gather the celestial resources from the mountains. The black market prices for some of the rare celestial resources can even bankrupt a small celestial clan. Therefore I have to travel incognito and try to find some of the rare resources myself. Or else…”

She suddenly smiles as she gives him a flirty look, “Or else I won’t have the chance to meet you, am I right?”

Somehow Lu Xiankai has missed the look that is in her eyes as he thought, “Maybe I have misunderstood her after all. She isn’t as bad as she looks. She is really the Protégé Mistress of the Holy Enigma City. She is not only beautiful but her heart is kind as well. And her spirits is determined and strong…”

Xingyun begins to fluster as she notices that Lu Xiankai is staring at her, “Why are you looking at me like that?”

Lu Xiankai murmurs quickly as he averts his eyes, “Nothing…”

Xingyun lowers her eyes and holds her hands to her bosoms as she says silently, “I really like you but do you like me?”

Lu Xiankai suddenly asks, “What are you looking for?”

Xingyun is doused from her thoughts as she quickly answers, “Just a while more. I am looking for something…here it is. I’ve found it.”

There is an ordinary wooden box in her hand and within it, is a fragmented scroll that appears to be burnt.

Xingyun carefully places the fragmented scroll in front of him and says, “This is our clan greatest secret. Do you want to know?”

Lu Xiankai smiles weakly, “There is probably a price for hearing. But I am all ears.”

Xingyun smiles, “Your attainment is higher than me. Can you decipher the contents of this scroll?”

At first Lu Xiankai is not interested but the contents of the scroll quickly catches his attention as he stammers, “This…is about cultivating the celestial force to a divine celestial force? Does it works?”

Xingyun says hesitatingly, “My ancestors had attempted decipher it but they had all failed. Therefore I do not know either. It is only a fragment. Without the full scroll, there is simply no way for us to practice. Do you have any insights?”

Lu Xiankai plays with the leftover of the inscriptions of the scroll in his mind. A celestial scroll is different from an ordinary writing. Much of the inscriptions are actually in a random order. A verse will usually give as much insight and each verses of a celestial skill scroll have their own interpretations and meanings.

He says, “I can only tell that the name of this celestial skill is the Tri Void Force using the Divine Celestial Force.”

Xingyun’s eyes are beaming as she nods excitingly, “You are a genius! It takes my ancestors’ ages to decipher that much and yet you are able to tell so much in such a short time. What else can you read from the scroll?”

Lu Xiankai sighs as he looks at her, “Why are you showing me? It is too precious to share. And how did your ancestor get it?”

Xingyun looks endeavoring into his eyes, “I trust you. That’s why…” But she left it uncompleted. She quickly says, “And because you may be the only one that can decipher the mysteries of this celestial skill.”

Lu Xiankai says quietly, “I do not warrant your trust. You don’t know me or who I am. But I am really curious how this scroll is obtained?”

Xingyun smiles faintly, “It happened a long time ago. A reverenced ancestor of mine happened to witness a battle between two celestial practitioners. Normally that isn’t something that is extraordinary but their fights are out of the world and they could smolder the mountains, something that celestial practitioners cannot accomplish. They are definitely not of the Sacred Saint level and are even stronger.”

Lu Xiankai’s interests are suddenly aroused as he listens intently…

She says, “They seem to be fighting over this celestial scroll that you have seen earlier. Normally a celestial scroll is almost indestructible but their fights were extremely violent and the celestial scroll was torn into many pieces. That is how my ancestor got this fragment.”

She looks at Lu Xiankai and asks, “Do you believe me?”

Lu Xiankai nods slowly, “I believe you. Who do you think those two celestial practitioners are?”

Xingyun replies, “My reverenced ancestor had tried to find out but they were totally unknown. Or rather, they may not be from the Celestial Realm but are…”

Lu Xiankai says at the same time, “…immortals. Immortal practitioners.”

Xingyun looks at him curiously, “You know something?”

Lu Xiankai smiles bitterly, “I have fought with one and I’ve lost completely. There isn’t even a fighting chance.”

Now it is Feiyue Xingyun’s turn to express astonishment, “You had fought with one before?”

Then she claps her hands, “Now that makes plenty of sense.”

Lu Xiankai asks curiously, “What do you mean?”

Xingyun says, “It is no wonder why my reverenced ancestor had warned us not to reveal our enlightenment and to keep as low as profile as before. It is also no wonder…”

She pauses before her she looks at him intently, “…that we don’t have any Sacred Saints in the entire Celestial Realm now. Maybe there were in the past but they were all killed by them. Correctly, there is one sitting here right now.”

Lu Xiankai nods slowly, “The question is why?”

Suddenly he is feeling excited that he has finally found some hints. It is because until today he has no idea why Yeqiu Lingling had wanted to kill him.

He mutters, “Why kill all the Sacred Saints?”

Xingyun injects, “Not just Sacred Saints. It includes all the peaked Golden Saints that have the potential to become a Sacred Saint as well.”

Lu Xiankai is startled as he asks, “Really?”

Xingyun asks, “Are you a renegade celestial practitioner?”

A renegade celestial practitioner is someone that cultivates alone and did not join any celestial clan. Most celestial practitioners prefer to be in a celestial clan for shared celestial resources as well as for protection.

Lu Xiankai smiles faintly, “Yes, I am.”

She says coolly, “That may be the reason why you are able to advance as a Sacred Saint and evade getting killed.”

Lu Xiankai nods. He was already a peaked Sacred Saint when he had met Yeqiu Lingling. Back then she was pleading for adventurers to kill the Blue Emperor Dragon and he was only too glad to impress her and the rest of the Celestials how good he is…

At that time he had thought of visiting the celestial clans and their Sacred Saints to exchange for more celestial practice and tips. But to his disappointment, he seemed that he was the only one…

Xingyun interrupts his thoughts, “I have already told you this much. Shouldn’t you tell me more about your background and your fight with that immortal?”

Lu Xiankai sighs and nods. He goes on to tell her everything except that Yeqiu Lingling is the black robe man. It is not because he does not trust her but some things are better not to be said at this time.

Then Xingyun suddenly says, “You must have met the black robe man again. Because when I saw you, you are blackened by an intense celestial flame and this celestial flame is not any ordinary flame. And because of that, you have no wish to return to the Honor Ode Clan. Am I right?”

Her sudden question had left him stunned for he did not know that she had been bidding her time to ask him this question. Her intellect and wit are not to be underestimated or else she would not be an Upper Tied Golden Celestial now.

Lu Xiankai nods slowly.

Xingyun asks curiously, “Who is he?”

Lu Xiankai shakes his head, “It is safer for you if I do not tell you.”

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ACO 20

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Chapter 20: The Giga Anaconda

The Giga Anaconda is huge, have eyes that is bigger than a full size man and a large jewel that adorns its forehead. When it moves, the ground below is sent into tremors and the mountains begin to shake.

Feiyue Xingyun winks at Lu Xiankai, “What are you waiting for? Why don’t you use…”

Lu Xiankai says solemnly, “You’re not supposed to mention it. Moreover, with the two of us here, we will be able to handle it.”

Feiyue Xingyun sighs softly, “Well, if you say so then.”

She quickly forms a golden celestial formation in front of her as six golden swords begin to form from her celestial force. This is her Intricate Golden Mystic Swords.

Lu Xiankai positions himself into an attack stance before his blue celestial force begins to form into a harkening dragon spirit that charges toward the Giga Anaconda!

Feiyue Xingyun mutters, “Go!” as her six golden swords fly at a startling speed at the Giga Anaconda.

Her golden animus is even brighter than the last time that Lu Xiankai had seen her. It seems that she had already elevated herself successfully into an Upper Tier Golden Celestial.

The Giga Anaconda roars in pain as it try to shake off the materialized celestial force that is on it, its body slamming into the mountain cliffs and causing boulders to fall thunderously on the ground below.

Feiyue Xingyun evades the falling boulders and maintains the focus of her golden swords that have pierced into the Giga Anaconda, “Monster, the celestial swords of a Golden Celestial is not that easy to shake off.”

Lu Xiankai in the meantime has already readied another Dragon Spirit to strike at the Giga Anaconda. Unlike Feiyue Xingyun’s celestial technique that can persist in materialized form with focus, his Dragon Spirit celestial technique is a burst of raw celestial power that implodes with devastating effect.

When the Giga Anaconda roars out in pain once again, Lu Xiankai has leapt on its forehead as he thrusts his blue scabbard into its jewel forehead, cracking the jewel almost immediately.

This causes the Giga Anaconda to give a final death roar before it crumbles onto the ground motionlessly.

Lu Xiankai stumbles back in exhaustion while Feiyue Xingyun quickly gathers the scatter jewels as her eyes beam excitingly, “I’ve finally got the Giga Jewels…”

Lu Xiankai smiles weakly, “You may well lose your life today if I am not here. A seventh grade demonic beast isn’t for…”

Feiyue Xingyun tiptoes on her heels as she looks endearingly into his eyes, “You’ve saved my life two times already. Aren’t our fates intertwined somehow?”

Lu Xiankai’s heart skips a beat as he looks into her alluring eyes as he says forcibly, “No!”

Standing this close together, he has remembered the sweet scent of her lips and her sensual figure.

She seems undeterred as she continues, “You don’t find me attractive?”

Lu Xiankai refuses to answer her as he starts to walk away.

She asks melancholy, “Because in your heart, you like the young mistress of the Honor Ode Clan. Am I right?”

Lu Xiankai stops in his track and says, “You are wrong. In fact, from this day onward, I have nothing to do with the Honor Ode Clan.”

She is startled but regains her composure to ask, “Your injuries. Who is the one that can possibly injure you into this state? Don’t tell me it is the Honor Ode Clan?”

Lu Xiankai says coldly, “I don’t want to talk about it.”

Feiyue Xingyun immediately pleads softly, “Don’t go yet. You didn’t even say a good farewell the last time and now you are leaving just like that? Why don’t you join me at the Holy Enigma City? The Holy Enigma City may not be as influential as the Honor Ode Clan but it still has considerable resources and influences. Come join me.”

Lu Xiankai smiles bitterly, “I am just an outsider. What is the point of joining your clan when I have to beg to join the ascendant event of the immortal sword? Moreover, I am getting the immortal sword for myself and not for your clan.”

Feiyue Xingyun holds his hand as she looks pleadingly with him, “You may have the immortal sword. The Holy Enigma City will only assist you in obtaining the sword. What do you say?”

Lu Xiankai says, “I doubt the others in the Holy Enigma City will agree to it.”

Feiyue Xingyun giggles softly, “They don’t have to agree. They will only need to obey my very commands.”

Lu Xiankai asks curiously, “What do you mean?”

Feiyue Xingyun smiles, “That is because I’m the protégé grandmaster of the Holy Enigma City. My will is their commands. So what do you think?”

Lu Xiankai starts to walk off, “Let me think about it…”

Feiyue Xingyun walks jovially beside him, “So you have agreed?”

He replies, “I have never said that…”

She suddenly points to a path and says, “We should go this way…”

Lu Xiankai asks, “Are you really the grandmaster of the Holy Enigma City?”

Feiyue Xingyun laughs softly, “Naturally I am.”

Book 1 End

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ACO 19

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Chapter 19: Feiyue Xingyun

Lu Xiankai floats in the torrential waters for some time, gripping his blue scabbard tightly. His mind is in the blank.

He had not suspected that Yeqiu Lingling would be the one that had attacked him. All this while she had led him to an entrapment. Is she is so much powerful than him, why did she not take him down in the first instance but instead, she had played the game of cat and mouse with him?

Because she had wanted to lead him to a place where there were no others. She wanted him to vanish completely, leaving no one to remember him.

But why?

He taps his chest gently and feels the thin armor within. It is a lucky thing that he had spent a hundred years to collect the Icy Mysterious Silk from the Ten-Eyes Winter Spiders to make the Icy Mysterious Silk Vest. This vest is able to protect him from the fiery fire by neutralizing the heat.

The fireball that had struck him was not comparable to the divine fire that had hurt him a thousand years ago of course so there is no way for him to know if the Icy Mysterious Silk Vest is effective or not. But at least today his internal organs are protected and with his Great Rejuvenate Force, his external injuries will be healed soon.

She probably thought that the fireball is good enough to kill him, not realizing that he has a protection. That is only because she tries to be discreet. If she had used the more powerful divine fire then the entire mountains would be a smothering black and voided of life.

He had not expected that he could meet the black robe man today and once again, he could feel the vast gap in their celestial strength. How someone so powerful could have existed in the entire Celestial Realm?

The very reason why he has wanted to seek the immortal sword is to avenge for Yeqiu Lingling but she has suddenly become his enemy…

Yeqiu Lingling is simply too formidable for him…

That is probably not her name.

Who is she?

He has suddenly realized that he had known very little about her. He had been overwhelmed by her idolization in the past and now he feels like an idiot.

But he is suddenly laughing heartily as he leaps to the riverbed. He is still alive after all and he is glad. Once again, he has no burdens and he is back to the old days.

It is as though he is suddenly set free.

What does the fate of the Celestial Realm has to do with me? I’ve always been cultivating alone.

All of a sudden he halts in his steps as he ponders, “Is there a divinity above the Sacred Saint level?”

The celestial practice is known to all the celestials and everyone has been practicing from the same set of intricate formula. To the celestials, the celestial practice is perfect and the highest attainment is the Sacred Saint level. But what if it is not?

He is already a peaked Sacred Saint and yet he is still overwhelmed by her celestial force. Even if he has the aid of the Blue Emperor Dragon, he knows that he will not be able to defeat her. It may be a good thing that he did not even have the opportunity to use his secret blue scabbard artifact and he can still save it for later at a more opportune timing.

All of a sudden he can see a maiden in red dancing along the cliffs as she battles a gigantic snake. This is the Giga Anaconda, a seventh grade demonic beast. Its strength is equivalent to a Golden Celestial!

As the maiden in red turns her face, he is startled to see a familiar face, “Feiyue Xingyun? Why is she here?”

The maiden in red has also seen him but instead of greeting him, she has suddenly sped to him to deliver a slashing stroke with her projected celestial force!

Only when Lu Xiankai has blocked her projectile sword stroke with his blue scabbard did she hesitates to ask, “Lu Xiankai?”

Lu Xiankai smiles weakly, “You seem to be in a little trouble this time.”

Feiyue Xingyun smiles alluringly, “And you look terribly pathetic now. Are you alright?”

Lu Xiankai answers, “I just survive your sword energies so I guess I’m alright.”

She smiles panicky as she glances at the fast approaching Giga Anaconda, “Good. Because I am going to need your help now…”

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ACO 18

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Chapter 18: Yeqiu Lingling

The Patriarch Dowager has just dismisses her four waiting maids and is seen walking to a mountain pavilion to overlook the lofty mountain peaks.

Finally she says softly, “You can come out now. You have been following me for some time.”

Lu Xiankai walks out of the shadows as he looks stupefied at her, “I…you…”

The Patriarch Dowager seems to be startled when she saw Lu Xiankai. Slowly she removes her veil and says, “It is you. No time no see.”

She shares similarities to Xue Yu, but is more beautiful and refined.

Lu Xiankai is bleary eyed as he begins to tremble, “Lingling, it is really you. I’ve thought that I would never see you again. That day, that day…I…”

She says gently, “Yes, it is me. I have never thought that I will see you again as well.”

Lu Xiankai asks, “Are you well? All these years, how have you been? I really miss you.”

She nods slowly, “I am well.”

Lu Xiankai is suddenly perplexed, “But how is it possible? How did you possibly have survived?…”

She smiles faintly, “And how did I have lived so long?”

Lu Xiankai nods slowly, “You’re a Sacred Saint now?”

She replies, “I am not.”

Lu Xiankai says, “Oh?”

She says slowly, “You shouldn’t have come today, really. You have escaped death once before and I promise you I won’t give you a second chance today.”

Lu Xiankai is startled, “What do you mean?”

She says, “What is the name that I have used before? Yeqiu Lingling? I’ve almost forgotten about it. It has been more than a thousand years already?”

Lu Xiankai steps back all of a sudden and say, “You’re that black robe man?”

She smiles faintly, “You seem to realize this a little late…”

All of a sudden she has raised her palm and in the next instant she has aimed it at Lu Xiankai!

Lu Xiankai quickly raises his palm to take the blow and there is a thunderous impact. Before he knows what is going on, he has coughed out blood and he is thrown down the mountainous peak!

She is heard saying, “Your celestial strength is only at the level of an Immortal Celestial? Did I use too much force?”

All of a sudden there is a blazing fireball that flies from above and it strikes Lu Xiankai with a blazing explosion as the entire mountains begin to tremble!

She is heard humming coldly, “I am just making sure you are dead this time. What Sacred Saint? I am a great goddess…”

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ACO 17

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Chapter 17: The Jade Pendant

Only three groups out of nine managed to complete the missions in three days.

Out of five hundred protégés, there are a hundred protégés dead or missing. Another two hundreds are seriously wounded.

The mission is a shock and an eye opening for many of the protégés.

In Lu Xiankai’s eyes, this trial is too brutal. This is not the same Celestial Fraternity that he had remembered. During his era, the Celestials would never risk the lives of the ordinary nor uses them as weapons.

Qiu Shengjun is not surprised that Lu Xiankai and his group have passed the trial. After all he had seen him took down a Four Eyes Demon.

So he merely nods to Master Practitioner Longxi who reacts with surprise; it is because Master Practitioner Longxi has not expected this group to be able to overcome their mission. In his mind, they must have a lot of luck and guts.

There are a lot of wailings and the medical practitioners are panicky as they tend to the wounded.

Lu Xiankai’s group is quiet. While they are grateful to Lu Xiankai for helping them to advance as protégés, they feel a sense of guilt for not contributing and they have been so terrified by the encounter with the Elder Myriad Centipede.

Even Ma Biao who often rebukes Lu Xiankai, is surprising quiet as he struggles to walk with his wounded arm. Today he has gained a new respect for Lu Xiankai and never again will he rebuke him again for he had dared to speak out to Yin Tianxing and had tried to save everyone.

Today, everyone from this group knows that they have a formidable fighter in their midst and that is Lu Xiankai.

Even the surviving three celestial practitioners, including Yin Tianxing are filled with respect and idolization for Lu Xiankai.

All the maidens in the group have their hearts melted when they look at Lu Xiankai…

However Lu Xiankai did not take notice of the changing sentiments in his group. To him, it is just a trivial thing and he has fought even stronger demonic beasts in the past.

Only one thing bugs and matters to him; the ascendant event of the immortal sword. The Honor Ode Clan will surely be there but how does he get into the selection list?

The ascendant event of the immortal sword is a top secret celestial event and the ordinary protégés could not possibly know. Not even Enlighten Celestial Qiu Shengjun is aware of it.

He knows that he has to go to the Divine Flying Fox Peaks when the times come, no matter if he is selected or not.

All of sudden the entire column stops marching as Enlighten Celestial Qiu Shengjun and all the other masters speed in front of them to bow with their hands to a lady in front of them.

Lu Xiankai has sharp ears and he can hear Qiu Shengjun saying respectfully to her, “Patriarch Dowager, we are just coming back from the Thousands Stinging Swamp with the protégés for their trial.”

The lady nods quietly, “I see. You may continue. I’m just taking a stroll with my maids.”

Lu Xiankai thought, “Patriarch Dowager? Isn’t that Xue Yu’s grandmother?”

All of a sudden he turns white with ashen as he catches sight of a hanging jade pendant by her side, “Isn’t this…isn’t this her possession?”

He had suddenly recognized that the hanging jade pendant is a possession of Yeqiu Lingling…

He is startled, “She…is still alive?”

No matter what, he has to find out today!

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ACO 16

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Chapter 16: The Elder Myriad Centipede

They had break camp at the first sight of dawn at the commands of Yin Tianxing who has assumed leadership of the group.

He is the leader while the other three Celestials who are with him are his ‘lieutenants’.

They have advanced in front while the rest of the group begins to trek behind them.

Chu Hai is seen talking to the attractive medical practitioner and there is a glow on his face.

Yuwen Feng whispers to Lu Xiankai, “It seems that a romance is blossoming between our Brother Chu Hai and that maiden. We have no hope now.”

Lu Xiankai smiles weakly, “Who says I’m interested in her?”

Yuwen Feng says, “I saw you looking at her…”

Lu Xiankai quickly interrupts, “It is one thing to admire and another thing to love. One day, you will understand what is mean to love.”

Yuwen Feng smiles bitterly, “If we have the chance. The lives of a sword protégés are short. Either we perish fighting the other clans or we get killed by the demonic beasts. I’m only here because the clan is able to take care of my livelihood. I have no other illusions. How about you?”

Lu Xiankai says, “Me? I didn’t give much thought.”

Yuwen Feng whispers, “Actually, I am not surprised if you are not interested in women. Some others join the clan because they have a peculiar interest and there are plenty of men around.”

Lu Xiankai asks, “What…”

But before he can asks further, Yin Tianxing shouts. “There is a cave in front. We are going in now. Everyone draws your swords and be on your best vigilant!”

The entrance of the cave is very large and can even accommodate everyone to enter at the same time. When their torches are readied, they begin to enter the cave.

Lu Xiankai has an uneasy feeling about the cave so he whispers, “Slaying demonic beasts are never easy. We must really be careful.”

The interior of the cave is large as well and the tunnels are extensive. After traveling for thirty minutes in the interior, they could still see no sight of the end.

Lu Xiankai leaps to the front of the party and approaches Yin Tianxing, “It is not a good idea for us to venture too deep. We should post some sentries outside in case we need support and start to make markers first. Or else we may easily get lost.”

Yin Tianxing growls, “Are you afraid? I am the leader or you are the leader? Our mission is fairly straightforward. We only need to find the horns of the Myriad Centipede and be done with it. We are lucky enough to find a possible lair. If we don’t explore the cave, how do we even find the Myriad Centipede and be done with our mission?”

All of a sudden there are shouts of panic as the group catches sight of hundreds of skeleton remains in front of them!

When Lu Xiankai catches sight of the hundreds of skeleton remains, he shouts. “Not good! Everyone makes a run to the entrance and as fast as possible…”

Yin Tianxing shouts, “Hold! What is your name? Am I the leader or are you the leader…”

All of a sudden a gigantic three horns purple centipede had descended onto the middle of the party, immediately taking the lives of three protégés by slicing them into halves with its sharp claws!

Lu Xiankai is startled. All the more startled because this is the Elder Myriad Centipede, which is a sixth grade demonic beast and even stronger than a typical Myriad Centipede!

Dozens of swords are immediately drawn against the Elder Myriad Centipede but their attacks bounced off harmlessly off its armored exoskeleton. In another split second, another three protégés are killed and a dozen are wounded as the monster rampaged among the party!

One of the celestial practitioners has readied a burst of sword energies but the sword energies simply bounced off the monster’s exoskeleton harmlessly. In the next instant, the same celestial practitioner has lost his head!

Lu Xiankai has quickly leapt onto the head of the Elder Myriad Centipede and had drawn up his wooden sword as he pierces it through its head. This act causes the Elder Myriad Centipede to shriek in pain and shakes uncontrollably, causing Lu Xiankai to fly off and hit against the wall!

He is actually not surprised by this result. The life force of the Elder Myriad Centipede is too strong and it cannot be killed off by ordinary means. Even if its head is cut off, the Elder Myriad Centipede will still be able to move. It is indeed an unimaginable monster to fight against.

He jumps to his feet again and shouts furiously, “Everyone that can still stand, run to the entrance now!”

And once again, he jumps onto the Elder Myriad Centipede.

By this time, everyone already knows how terrifying the Elder Myriad Centipede has been. Therefore when Lu Xiankai shouts for them to flee, everyone begins to scurry to the entrance!

Because Lu Xiankai had already broken his wooden sword, he uses his blue scabbard to stab the Elder Myriad Centipede again and again.

This further enrages the Elder Myriad Centipede as it tries to hit Lu Xiankai but he is too swift for it.

Finally when Lu Xiankai saw the last of the protégés have disappeared from sight, he draws upon his reserve celestial force that he has hosted within the blue scabbard. This immediately elevated his celestial divinity to an Immortal Celestial.

Gathering his blue celestial force, he slams into the Elder Myriad Centipede with his blue scabbard as he imbues his Dragon Spirit technique into it. This causes the Elder Myriad Centipede to immediately burst into blue flames.

In the next instant, he has jumped onto the head of the Elder Myriad Centipede again and slide off its three horns.

Lu Xiankai is particular sorrowful as he counts the number of dead; there are thirteen bodies. They have started off with 36 in their party and in just a few minutes, 1/3 of their party had fallen to the Elder Myriad Centipede.

When he has reached the entrance of the cave, the rest of the party are staring at him as they have noticed that he is carrying three gigantic horns in his arm.

“Is it even possible?”

He takes quick look at the survivors and is glad that Chu Hai, Ma Biao and Yuwen Feng are among the survivors.

He turns to stares coldly at Yin Tianxing as he threw the three large horns at his feet, “Your rashness has caused the deaths of 13 of our comrades. Their blood is in your hands.”

Yin Tianxing is bleary as he weeps aloud, “I…I’m sorry…”

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ACO 15

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Chapter 15: The Hunt

One month has passed quickly.

Lu Xiankai has picked up the twelve basic stances of the Ode Swordplay fairly quick. Yuwen Feng and Ma Biao have no issues as well. Chu Hai has some difficulties with his positioning and timing. Even though Ma Biao has been coaching him but it is still difficult for him.

Soon everyone in the team has gotten used to each other and their quirks. Occasionally Ma Biao would voice complaints against Lu Xiankai for his irritating woodcarving as he made one wooden sword after another.

Today seems like a normal day until Master Practitioner Longxi announced that they are all going to have a special trial, catching everyone by surprise.

“What special trial?”

Master Practitioner Longxi smiles mysteriously as he shouts. “Follow me!”

They are even joined by the other Master Practitioners and protégés of the other halls. It gets more and more mysterious as their three hundred group expands to a group of five hundred.

Beside Master Practitioner Longxi, there is Master Practitioner Wuxi and the other Master Practitioners of the other Halls. Even Enlighten Celestial Qiu Shengjun is presented with two other Enlighten Celestials. All in all, at least fifty celestial practitioners are also presented.

“Where are we going?”

“I have heard that we are going to the Thousands Stinging Swamp to take our trial.”

“What is that place?”

“What a horrible name…”

Indeed, they are marched to the Thousands Stinging Swamp, marching from morning to night. It is an impressive sight as five hundred protégés of the Honor Ode Clan marches together.

When they have reached, almost everyone is exhausted from the continuous marching.

Chu Hai is in daze and it looks like he is going to collapse but Ma Biao keeps him going.

Master Practitioner Longxi says to them, “You will be divided into nine groups. Each group will have seven to nine teams of 4 protégés each. The newer protégés will be in a bigger group because you are going to need all the support from each other. In each group, a medical practitioner team will be attached to support aid. Each group will also be led by a team of celestial practitioners.”

“Nightfall is the best time to hunt,” he continues. “You must be wondering what your quests will be, right? You are going to hunt for the horns of the Myriad Centipede, a fourth grade demonic beast in the Thousand Stinging Swamp.”

Almost everyone is gasping with shock. It is because not even a Master Practitioner will find a Myriad Centipede to be an easy foe. Moreover they are all juniors.

Master Practitioner Longxi adds coldly, “Expect no help from your masters. This is your trial. You may even die while undertaking this quest. But the good news is, if your group manages to take the horns of the Myriad Centipede and return, you will be automatically promoted as official protégés.”

He pauses awhile before adding, “You have but 3 days to complete the trial.”

Lu Xiankai thought, “The horns of the Myriad Centipede can be grinded into powder and made into healing potions and even poisons. It is a rare celestial ingredient. Slaying the Myriad Centipede won’t be easy for these juniors. It seems that the Honor Ode Clan is already preparing for the coming ascendant event of the immortal sword. Even First Young Master Xue Yizhong has been pushing himself hard to become a Golden Celestial.”

He ponders further, “At this stage, they are not willing to sacrifice their more experience protégés for this undertaking. But if they sent the juniors then it will be a good exposure to them and will quickly level them. But if they have really encountered the Myriad Centipedes, how many of them will survive the fight?”

Lu Xiankai and his team found themselves assigns to the first group. There are seven sword protégé teams, one medical practitioner team and even a team of celestial practitioners.

The celestial practitioners in their group are the future leaders of the clan so they gather the group and say, “We shall take the lead and the rest of you will follow us.”

Lu Xiankai notices that the four celestial protégés had joined the same time as them a month ago. As celestial protégés and practitioners, they are also Celestials.

“I am Yin Tianxing, the leader of the celestial team. And of course, I am also a Celestial.” The young celestial looks cocky as he smiles, “You lot won’t be able to defeat a Myriad Centipede, let alone hurting it for it is protected by its thick plated armor. We have to use celestial swordplay of course. Therefore we want the rest of you to support us as we preparing the celestial stances. Am I clear?”

Chu Hai and the rest of the group shouts excitedly, “We understand!”

Lu Xiankai sighs often, “This Yin Tianxing is using the rest of you as cannon fodders…”

Suddenly Lu Xiankai notices a maiden that stands among the medical practitioner team. She is the same maiden that has taken the initial test with them a month ago. In fact, several of the sword protégés are also looking at her because she is really an attractive maiden.

Yin Tianxing says, “We shall move ahead first and camp for the night. The other groups are already making their way into the Thousand Stinging Swamp. We have only 3 days to complete our mission.”

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ACO 14

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Chapter 14: A Golden Celestial is birthed

Lu Xiankai wakes up in a stupor and with a terrible headache. Yuwen Feng had doused him from his sleep, “We have to go for our sword practice now.”

Ma Biao shakes his head, “He has been drinking again. Sooner or later, our team will be in trouble because of him. How long can we protect him? The sooner we can knock some silly sense into his head, the better. I have only one wish and that is to be a sword protégé and not some juniors forever.”

Chu Hai wants to say something but he decides to keep quiet. Last night, he had accidentally seen Qiu Shengjun and Lu Xiankai walking drunkenly together. But that was not the most shocking part; he had actually seen Qiu Shengjun hugging and trying to kiss Lu Xiankai.

He shakes his head as he shivers, “I didn’t know that they are this close and into this relationship. No wonder he is not afraid to go drinking every night…”

But the truth is, Qiu Shengjun had mistaken Lu Xiankai as Min Juan in his drunken stupor and Chu Hai had happened to witness it.

Lu Xiankai shakes his head and mutters, “Maybe I shouldn’t have drunk so much…”

He suddenly got a shiver as he thought, “That Qiu Shengjun, he doesn’t know how to drink and yet he still drinks so much. He even tried to kiss me and called me Min Juan…so he is secretly in love with her? I can’t even tell…”

During their several weeks of travel together, Qiu Shengjun and he had grown to be close and they had regarded themselves as friends. Even though Min Juan had also traveled with them, he had never noticed that Qiu Shengjun had shown a particular interest in Min Juan and he was always the overbearing second in charge of the party.

He sighs silently, “Maybe I should try to forget Xue Yu. She is not the Yeqiu Lingling that I’ve known. As for Xue Yiren, he seems to be more down to earth. Why is he so sorrowful all the time?”

The three of them had drunk throughout the night and each of them seemed to be occupied in their own thoughts, saying little.

Yuwen Feng taps Lu Xiankai again, “Brother Xiankai, are you alright? You should get up and get a wash quickly or else you will be late for the morning sword practice.”

Lu Xiankai blinks his eyes and nods, “I guess I am sober now…”

All of a sudden there are large commotions outside and everyone is shouting, “Come and have a look!”

Even Lu Xiankai is roused from his stupor as he steps out of the room only to see that hundreds of protégés have gathered to watch the skies above them.

There is a golden light from the heavens above and rainbow arcs are beaming stunningly against the background!

“What is this?”

“Haven’t you heard?”

“Immortal Celestial Xue Yizhong the oldest son of our patriarch grandmaster has now elevated himself as a Golden Celestial…”

“This golden light is a sign that he has attained the divinity of a Golden Celestial…”

“So we have to address him as Great Immortal now?”

“The Honor Ode Clan has another Golden Celestial now. Our clan is even stronger now…”

When Lu Xiankai has seen the golden light from the heavens, he knows instantly that indeed that someone has attained as a Golden Celestial. It is not easy to attain as a Golden Celestial and this First Young Master Xue Yizhong must be fairly accomplished as a celestial practitioner in order to advance his state of divinity.

The path of cultivation follows a different law than the mundane practices. It is never about continuous practice or experience to obtain the level of practice. Where else swordplay may have a set of rules and styles to anticipate the opponents’ strokes and to react against it, celestial practice can never be taught because mental fortitude can never be taught. While a superior celestial intricate formula may help a celestial practitioner to advance as a Master Practitioner but beyond that level, the celestial practitioner’s inherent potential and providence matters more.

That is the reason why 80% of the celestial practitioners cannot advance beyond the Master Practitioner level and that is only the second level of the celestial cultivation.

Xue Yiren has barely attained past the Master Practitioner level as an Enlighten Celestial. Even though he has accessed to the vast celestial resources of the Honor Ode Clan, consuming plenty of divine pills and herbs to aid in his celestial practice but his potential is still limited. No wonder he is always depressed and lost all hope of advancing in his celestial practice.

As for this Xue Yizhong, he is now a Golden Celestial. Anyone that can attain as a Golden Celestial has an unlimited potential and his status in the Celestial Realm as Great Immortal will be cemented as one of the great celestials in the celestial canons.

Lu Xiankai had tried to search the celestial canons in the library of the Honor Ode Clan for his name but he could not find any. He was a little disappointed. At that time, he was not known as Lu Xiankai for he had only used this name when he had decided to return to the Celestial Fraternity. His meaning of his current name means ‘The First Path’.

It was because in the official celestial canons, it is stated that no one else has ever reached the level of Sacred Saint. It is as though someone had purposely wanted to blog his existence from the world.

Instead there are just accounts of Sacred Saints here and then but these are considered to be a myth and not as official celestial canon.

Who would do such a thing?

Is that the mysterious man that had almost killed him back then?

For what purpose and why?

This is something that Lu Xiankai resolves himself to find out.

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ACO 13

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Chapter 13: The Second Young Master

Lu Xiankai is drinking in his now favorite spot when a man says, “You have really come?”

It is the same man from last night and in both of his hands are a jar of wines. From the aroma of the wines, the wines are indeed of a superior grade.

Lu Xiankai says, “If someone wants to offer me free wines, I will surely not miss any opportunity for it.”

The man smiles and passes a jar to Lu Xiankai while he takes the other jar and begins to pour the wine into his mouth.

Lu Xiankai did the same and he is soon praising, “Good wine!”

The man asks, “Why did you never ask me for my name or you have already known who I am?”

Lu Xiankai looks at him, “I don’t know who you are and why should I ask for your name?”

The man smiles bitterly, “You are an interesting fellow. I am Xue Yiren, the second young master of the Honor Ode Clan. Yesterday you say your name is Lu Xiankai?”

Lu Xiankai looks at him and is startled. He has heard of him. He is one of Xue Yu’s brothers. However his status in the clan is said to be fairly low because he is only an Enlighten Celestial where else both his younger sister and older brother are already an Immortal Celestial. It is said that this second young master Xue Yiren often wastes his life in drinking and womanizing, neglecting to advance his celestial practice further.

Xue Yiren smiles bitterly, “So now you know who I am.”

Lu Xiankai nods and says, “I am Lu Xiankai. I am just a sword protégé that joins yesterday.”

Xue Yiren laughs, “You should be happy. Why are you drinking your sorrows here?”

Lu Xiankai looks at him and growls softly, “Should I be happy?”

Xue Yiren says, “Anyone that passes the trial to be a protégé of the Honor Ode Clan should be happy.”

Lu Xiankai asks, “That is my personal business to be happy or not. Don’t you think so? I didn’t even ask you why you are unhappy.”

Xue Yiren laughs heartily, “Indeed. Indeed. Our sorrows are our personal business and it does not concern anyone. Come; let us drink heartily to our sorrows!”

Lu Xiankai raises the wine jar and says, “Toast!”

Xue Yiren did the same and says aloud, “Toast!”

Lu Xiankai suddenly sighs, “It seems that we have some unwanted company…”

It is because he has caught sight of Qiu Shengjun as he approaches them and so did Xue Yiren.

As Qiu Shengjun approaches, Lu Xiankai jumps to his feet and gives him a punch to his face. His punch is so swift that Qiu Shengjun is not able to avoid it and even Xue Yiren is surprised that Lu Xiankai manages to land a hit on an expert Enlighten Celestial like Qiu Shengjun.

Qiu Shengjun blurts out, “Why did you punch me? Are you still so petty that I am particular harsh against you during your sword trial?”

Lu Xiankai says coldly, “This punch is for the four men and women that you had killed yesterday during the sword trial.”

Qiu Shengjun did not appear to be upset and instead he says, “If they can’t even prepare themselves for the sword trial, why bother to even come? They are just simply courting their own deaths and should have volunteered to give up.”

He pats Lu Xiankai on his shoulder, “Don’t be so upset, alright? Is that the reason why Brother Xiankai is drinking?”

Lu Xiankai hums coldly and ignores him.

Xue Yiren asks, “Enlighten Celestial Qiu Shengjun, you know him?”

Qiu Shengjun quickly bows with his hands, “My respects to Second Young Master Yiren, forgives me for greeting you late. We are like good brothers…”

Then he proceeds to laugh aloud, “Just that he sounds a little upset with me now.”

Xue Yiren smiles weakly, “No one in the clan really bothers with my existence. How do you know him?”

Qiu Shengjun answers as he steals a glance at Lu Xiankai, “You mean why I am a good brother with such an ordinary man? He is no ordinary man and had even saved our young protégé mistress from a Four Eyes Demon. Even though he doesn’t have any celestial force but he is formidable with his sword and lightless skill.”

Xue Yiren is startled as he starts to appraise Lu Xiankai, “He has defeated the Four Eyes Demon, a sixth grade demonic beast? Is that even possible?”

Lu Xiankai replies coolly, “I got lucky.”

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ACO 12

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Chapter 12: First Day as Sword Protégé

There are hundreds of protégés that have gathered in the Ode Sword Hall and Lu Xiankai is among them.

Qiu Shengjun is also presented and he is casting long sweeping stares at them, causing many of the protégés to shift uncomfortably.

Master Practitioner Longxi was overheard saying to Qiu Shengjun, “Enlighten Celestial, your presence honors us. Is there anything we can do for you?”

Qiu Shengjun says, “I am just passing through. You may continue the initiation ceremony of the protégés.”

Master Practitioner Longxi then proceeds to say aloud to the protégés that are presented, “I am Master Practitioner Longxi, your protégé mentor. There are more than three hundred of you here. There are old and new protégés among you. But the fact that you are here means that you are not true sword protégés here. As long as you have not become a true sword protégé yet, I can expel you for any reasons that I seem fit without a need to report to the clan protégé masters. Therefore you have to pass the trials that I have set for you and quickly elevated your strength.”

He pauses for his words to sink in before adding, “Every six months, there will be an assessment to determine if you are fit to be promoted and to join the rest of the sword protégés at the Advance Ode Sword Hall.”

“I have grouped everyone into a group of 4. In your group, you are like protégé brothers and sisters. You will work as a team to overcome your trials. Men or women, you are all on equal footing here with no special privileges given. That is because you are sword protégés, the ones that will shoulder the responsibility of safeguarding the Honor Ode Clan against our enemies.”

“Unless a trial is going on, you must practice your swordplay three hours in the morning and three hours in the late afternoon.”

Master Practitioner Longxi points to his left where twelve stoic men are standing, “The twelve of them are celestial practitioners and they will be helping me to supervise your sword practice.”

“The Honor Ode Swordplay consists of twelve basic stances and twenty-four advance stances. The twenty-four advance stances will be available to you once you have passed the trials of the Ode Sword Hall and when you go to the Advance Ode Sword Hall…”

Lu Xiankai looks silently at Ma Biao, Chu Hai and Yuwen Feng, “So I am struck with them for now?”

Master Practitioner Longxi gives a great shout all of a sudden, “I want everyone to run round the Honor Ode Citadel and get familiar with all the mountain trails. After that, come back for your morning sword practices. You have better organized yourself in your group and to help each other to complete the run. The last ten groups to complete the run will have to stay back for two extra hours of sword practice. Do you hear? If yes, make your run now!”

With that, hundreds of protégés begin to make a dash for the entrance of the Ode Sword Hall!

Yuwen Feng says to them as they make a dash to follow the rest, “Quickly, let’s run together. It is easy to lose track of each other when there are so many of us.”

He turns to look at Chu Hai, “You can run?”

Chu Hai nods lightly but it is obvious that he is a weak runner for he is already breathing hard.

Ma Biao says to him, “Follow my pace. It is unlikely we can emerge among the winning groups but it is even worse if we don’t complete the run.”

Lu Xiankai says, “That will be at least twenty miles of run, all the more difficult especially because of the mountainous terrains outside.”

In his short time here, he had already surveyed the grounds of the Honor Ode Citadel.

Ma Biao looks at him with a hostile look, “Then I hope that you don’t lag behind us because I won’t wait for you…”

In the end their group is indeed one of the last groups to arrive. Chu Hai is completely exhausted and they had stopped several times along the way to assist him.

Lu Xiankai did not even sweat for it is as easy as taking a stroll.

Yuwen Feng is the second fittest in the group but even then he is tired from the run and has sweated profusely.

Lu Xiankai smiles to his group, “It seems that today we have to stay back for two extra hours of sword practice.”

Yuwen Feng nods, “It seems that almost all the groups that lag behind are from the group that had just passed the initiates yesterday. The older protégés are tougher and have more time to build up their stamina and strength. This is something that we have to improve upon.”

Chu Hai smiles bitterly and is overwhelmed with guilt, “My apologies…”

But Ma Biao pats him on his shoulder and says, “It is alright. It takes time.”

Yuwen Feng notices that Lu Xiankai is looking at the runners from above and asks, “What is so interesting about looking at the losers?”

Lu Xiankai smiles and points at the female protégés runners, “Don’t you think that some of the ladies here are pretty?”

Yuwen Feng is startled but he mutters, “Yes, these women have fierce spirits or else they won’t have passed the sword trial.”

Lu Xiankai sighs often, “You really need to be less tense and less dense.”

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