ACO 11

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Chapter 11: Lonely Company

Lu Xiankai has stolen some wines from the kitchen and he is now at an isolated corner trying to drink his sorrows. It is because he has overheard the conversation between Xue Yu and Grandmaster Gongjiu. He has never expected that Xue Yu will be this crafty and sly in front of him.

“She is after all, not my Yeqiu Lingling…”

“Even that Feiyue Xingyun is also a liar…”

“Why are you drinking alone?” A man says as he snatches one of the wine urns to pour its content into his mouth.

The man looks young, mostly likely a celestial practitioner and he has a refined handsome look.

Lu Xiankai smiles bitterly, “That is none of your business and moreover did you just steal one of my wines?”

The man hums coldly, “You don’t even know who I am. I must really be the most insignificant person in the entire Tearless City. Don’t you know that drinking is forbidden to the protégés unless permission is granted? Judging from your sneaky appearance, you must have stolen these wines. You are lucky that I did not turn you in or you will surely be expelled.”

Lu Xiankai continues to drink as he smirks coldly, “So what?”

The man asks, “So what is your name? Or are you afraid of giving me your name?”

Lu Xiankai smiles bitterly, “Lu Xiankai. Go ahead and report me. I don’t care about the clan or the people here.”

The man looks at the heavens and smiles bitterly, “I don’t care either.”

He turns to Lu Xiankai and says, “By the way, this is my secret drinking corner. Tonight, I can let you have my corner. Tomorrow night, I will bring along some superior wines and we will drink heartily together. Be sure to turn up.”

Without waiting for Lu Xiankai to reply, the man has lifted himself over the roof and has disappeared. Judging by his celestial aura that is displayed, he is an Enlighten Celestial, on par with Qiu Shengjun.

Lu Xiankai quietly got up and mutters, “What a strange fellow. But someone that likes to drink and offer to treat me will not be too bad a fellow.”

He sighs often, “It is getting late. I ought to retire to my quarter before someone notices.”

So he begins to search for his quarter.

As a newly protégé he has been assigned a common quarter with three others and he has to report to the Ode Sword Hall at the first break of dawn with the rest of the sword protégés.

It takes him some time to find his quarter as the protégés manor has many buildings and halls. Most of the protégés that he has met along the way are kind enough to guide him upon hearing that he is new.

He is supposed to follow the newly sword protégés to his quarter during the day but he has sneaked away as soon as he got his quarter number while the rest of the sword protégés are preparing to go to the Hall of the Commons for their dinner.

As a celestial practitioner, he does not really need to eat.

He pushes the door of his quarter awkwardly and he is immediately greeted by three pairs of staring eyes.

He recognizes the fine looking man that was the first to take the challenge of the sword trial from Qiu Shengjun.

The fine looking man is also the first to greet him, “You’re Lu Xiankai, our roommate? I am Yuwen Feng. You are really impressive during the trial. I am glad that we are able to share the same quarter.”

Lu Xiankai smiles and says, “So are you. It takes guts to be the first. You must be a gutsy fellow.”

A lanky scholar like man introduces himself, “Brother Lu. I am Chu Hai. It is my honor to know you.”

Lu Xiankai smiles as he bows with his hands, “Brother Chu Hai!”

A third man, who appears to be a loner, says. “You reek of alcohol. It is forbidden to drink or else the consequences are severe. Even if you have never thought of yourself, we may get punish along with you for not reporting you.”

Chu Hai immediately says, “He is Brother Ma Biao. He doesn’t mean anything. He is actually kind. I’ve known him for many years.”

Lu Xiankai bows with his hands, “Well then Brother Ma Biao, how do you do? I just have a slip that’s all. I have met Enlighten Celestial Qiu Shengjun along the way and he forces me to drink a little with him. I can’t refuse a protégé master, can I?’

With that, he jumps on the bed that is emptied and immediately covers himself with a blanket, “Well good night.”

The other three men are slightly startled for they did not expect Lu Xiankai to retire so early. They are too excited to sleep and are talking to each other when Lu Xiankai had entered the room.

Ma Biao says coolly, “Well goodnight. I am sleeping as well.”

Chu Hai and Yuwen Feng looks at each other before they say at the same time, “Well, goodnight then…”

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ACO 10

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Chapter 10: Shocking Truth

The night is heavy with fog; while all the other initiates are resting for the night, Lu Xiankai is sneaking around the grounds of the Honor Ode Clan. He has spotted Xue Yu in the cover of the darkness and knows that she is here today to pay homage to the Grandmaster.

“I wonder what the Grandmaster of the Honor Ode Clan looks like?”

As Xue Yu walks from pavilions to pavilions, she is greeted by the protégés and servants of the clan, addressing her as Immortal Celestial. There is no sight of Min Juan, who is always accompanying her. It appears that she is alone.

Finally he saw her entering a large building and he quietly slips to the building roof.

He soon found a spot that offers a ray of light into the interior and he has a full view of Xue Yu and a black bearded man who is sitting on a throne. If this black bearded man is the Honor Ode Clan Grandmaster then his name must be Xue Gongjiu. From the information that he had gathered earlier, it is said that the Grandmaster is a Golden Celestial.

“I am like a burglar…” In the past, it was inconceivable that he would have sneaked around like this and eavesdropped on anyone. “Have I become a changed person or I am afraid of losing now? I do trust Xue Yu but what celestial secrets did the Prophetess exchanges with her?”

There are sorrows in his eyes but a new wave of fire soon ignites over him, “I’ve returned to the Celestial Fraternity to seek the immortal sword so that I can avenge for Lingling. That monster of a man must still be alive. I am not the first Sacred Saint. He is and he had wanted to kill me.”

His thoughts are interrupted by Xue Yu who quietly greets the black bearded man, “Patriarch Father, I’ve returned. Your daughter is here to pay my homage.”

Grandmaster Gongjiu laughed heartily, “Finally. I have been waiting for your return.”

He lifts his fingers suddenly and there are several rays of stunning light that burst from his fingers as he displays the Listening Spirits, “Just making sure that there is no one else around in our vicinity. We are good to talk now.”

Lu Xiankai is not bothered by the Listening Spirits even though he knows that he is within its sphere of influence. It is because he has completely suppressed his celestial force into his blue scabbard and the special sealing within will also void out the presence of any celestial force.

Grandmaster Gongjiu asks, “What did the Prophetess says?”

Xue Yu replies softly, “She is able to confirm that our divination of the immortal sword that is soon to be birthed is correct. The event will indeed take place six months from now. Because our celestial secret is weightier, she had also revealed to me that the final location of the immortal sword will be in the Divine Flying Fox Peaks.”

Grandmaster Gongjiu is trembling with revel, “An immortal sword is far superior to any divine swords. This is by far, the second occurrence of an immortal sword in the entire history of the Celestial Realm…”

Lu Xiankai is perplexed as he listens, “There is another occurrence? So who had managed to seize the first immortal sword?” He put a mental note to himself to check on this event.

Xue Yu asks, “Patriarch Father, do you think we are ready for that? The ascendancy of the first immortal sword nearly destroyed the nine patriarch celestial clans and even today, the blood feuds refuse to go away.”

Grandmaster Gongjiu lifts his head as he closes his eyes, “We have no other choices. The patriarch celestial clans and the more capable celestial clans will contest fiercely for the immortal sword to gain an edge over the others and to gain the immortal sword to further their celestial practice.”

Xue Yu says, “Our main rivals are the Divine Sword Clan and the Golden Autumn Manor. These two patriarch clans may even forge an alliance against us.”

Grandmaster Gongjiu nods, “We are allied to the Sky Heavens Clan and the Invincible Iron Sect. We can count on them to keep them at bay when the time comes.”

Xue Yu asks, “How about the other patriarch celestial clans? Do they stand a chance?”

Grandmaster Gongjiu replies, “The rest of the patriarch celestial clans won’t ally with each other as shown in past records and their feuds run deep. The Purple Flowers Sect and the Holy Enigma City won’t even know of the impeding ascendancy of the immortal sword until it is too late. They don’t even have any Golden Celestials in their clans, let alone having someone capable of unraveling the celestial divinations. These two clans have been in the decline for centuries and I’m not surprised that they will be replaced by the other celestial clans soon.”

Lu Xiankai’s heart pounds when he has heard the Holy Enigma City being mentioned. He remembers that Feiyue Xingyun from the Holy Enigma City and that she is a Golden Celestial of the Intermediate Stage. So why did Grandmaster Gongjiu says that there are no Golden Celestials among the ranks of the Holy Enigma City?

A sudden thought caused him to shiver; One is that Feiyun Xingyun has hidden her attainment from the others and no one else knows her true celestial level. Two is that she has lied to him on her clan of origin. Even her name may even be faked. But regardless of his guesswork, he knows that Feiyun Xingyun obviously knows of the forthcoming ascendancy of the immortal sword.

Grandmaster Gongjiu asks, “Yu’Er, is there anything else interesting that you may want to share with me on this trip?”

Xue Yu says quietly, “I have met a man. He saves our party from a Four Eyes Demon.”

Grandmaster Gongjiu says, “Oh? Then he must be a formidable fighter. The Four Eyes Demon is a grade six demonic beast. Even for you, it may still be a challenge.”

Xue Yu nods, “He has used a wooden sword to pierce the skull of the Four Eyes Demon.”

Grandmaster Gongjiu is startled, “Is that even possible? What is his attainment?”

Xue Yu hesitates for a while before she replies, “I cannot tell. When I was questioning him, I was interrupted by a masked assailant and she appears to be a Golden Celestial. Luckily, she doesn’t appear to be interested in fighting us and is just eavesdropping on us. ”

Grandmaster Gongjiu is slightly taken aback but he soon composes himself, “We are not the only ones that seek the Prophetess. The fact that the Golden Celestial is incognito hints that much. It is probably not the Divine Sword Clan or they will not give up any opportunity to humiliate us.”

He pauses to think before adding, “Where is that man now? Is he a friend or foe?”

Xue Yu replies, “I’ve brought him back to our clan. As of today, he has passed the sword trial to become a protégé of our clan.”

Grandmaster Gongjiu growls softly, “Sword trial? He did not pass the celestial trial?”

Xue Yu answers, “The celestial stone has failed to glow and he has failed the celestial testing.”

Grandmaster Gongjiu asks, “So he isn’t a celestial?”

Xue Yu says, “He may be but so far, he is quite tight on his background.”

She smiles sweetly, “He seems to be infatuated with me and is even willing to follow me back. Celestial or not, even a Sacred Saint cannot help but fall under my charms.”

Grandmaster Gongjiu laughs heartily, “Just like that young master of the Sky Heavens Clan.”

Xue Yu smiles endearingly, “Yes, just like that silly young master of the Sky Heavens Clan. These men are all alike. They all like the innocents in the maidens that they are pursuing and I’m just playing that part to entice them.”

When Lu Xiankai has overheard her, his face has suddenly turned very gloomy and it is like his very heart has been pierced by her. He begins to tremble uncontrollable and sighs to the heavens, “Maybe I shouldn’t have returned to the Celestial Fraternity at all and I should remain in the Great Northern Territories…”

Grandmaster Gongjiu is heard saying as Lu Xiankai picked himself up to speed off, “Xue’Er, remember to pay your homage to your grandmother. She is asking for you…”

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Chapter 9: The Three Trials

Qiu Shengjun pushes Lu Xiankai into a hall of surprise men and women as he shouts, “You will join them as initiates from now on.”

Lu Xiankai smiles weakly as he mutters under his breath, “As soon as we are here, he has become another person…”

He quickly looks around and saw that there are fifty men and women in the hall who seem to be terrified when they saw Qiu Shengjun.

Qiu Shengjun turns to ask the two Master Practitioners that are near him, “How good is this batch?”

Zhong Jinmen says, “Enlighten Celestial Shengjun, real celestial practitioners are few.  The majority are trying their luck to be a protégé so that they can earn a living.”

Qiu Shengjun nods quietly. In the distant past, the celestial clans’ protégés were all celestials. However as the feuds between the celestial clans began to escalate, many of the celestial clans began to recruit the mortals as protégés. The mortal protégés are not true celestial practitioners, did not possess any celestial auras and unlike the celestials who can live for centuries, they are mainly cannon folders for the more powerful celestials.

However, even cannon folders have their good uses. It is because even well-trained cannon folders can also bring down a celestial with their swords. The lives of the celestials are precious for they are few in numbers and it takes a hundred year for a celestial to be born.

Qiu Shengjun says aloud, “Did you see the green stone that is in the middle of the hall? Line up and focus on it one by one.”

Zhong Jinmen immediately rounds the protégés and says to the initiates, “We shall see who among you are able to become protégés of the Honor Ode Clan today.”

Lu Xiankai moves unhurriedly to join the already formed queue as he yawns softly.

The atmosphere is tense as the initiates excitedly place their hands on the green testing stone. However there are only a couple of initiates who are able to change the green stone to yellow at their touch. For those that succeeds in turning the green stone to yellow, they will be initiated today as protégés of the Honor Ode Clan and will be imparted the superior celestial arts of the Honor Ode Clan.

As for those that fails today, they will be the second rate protégés and will only be imparted external arts like swordplay and herbalism.

Lu Xiankai smiles to himself, “Those who are celestials among the group are those that are able to overcome this trial. The results have already been decided even before the trials have begun. Or maybe there will be some mortals who are gifted with the celestial aura?”

When it is time for Lu Xiankai’s turn to take the test, failing is to be expected for he has completely sealed his celestial force into his blue scabbard.

Qiu Shengjun did not look surprise at all as he steals a glance at Lu Xiankai who smiles in return.

Lu Xiankai sighs while thinking, “Is he laughing at me or is he mocking me? Failing this test is to be expected and within my own expectations.”

Zhong Jinmen turns to the other Master Practitioner, “Protégé brother Wuxi, there are five initiates that are able to pass this round of testing. I’m going to take them to the next hall for their briefing. The rest is up to you now.”

Wuxi bows respectfully before he looks at the remaining group to say, “The next trial will begin very soon now at this same hall. I hope that there will be more of you that can pass. It is because the third trial will be your last chance. Those who fail will have to enroll again.”

With that, he claps thunderously with his celestial force and almost immediately six protégés begin to walk into the hall, each carrying an urn and placing it on the table in front of the remaining protégés.

Lu Xiankai is able to sense the nervous air among the initiates as he ponders, “It seems that they have taken this trial before? From the look of it, this trial won’t be easy.”

And now, including himself, there are only 46 initiates that are remaining.

Wuxi says aloud, “There are six urns in front of you. The urn contains divine pills. However, only a fifth of the divine pills are real.”

He pauses to let this knowledge sink in before smiling broadly, “You will need to find the real divine pills from each of the urn in order to pass the second trial. After all, being able to differentiate a divine pill and its potency is crucial to your future survival and attainment.”

The initiates begin to murmur nervously among themselves, “Only 1 in 5 of the pills is the real. We have to do it six times? That means that luck cannot play a part. It is a different test from the last trial?”

Master Practitioner Wuxi roars into laughter and he is followed by the laughter of several protégés, including Qiu Shengjun. He calm himself down before saying, “Previously, many of the initiates are able to discern the composite of the divine pills. It is only because only the lower grades of the divine pills are tested and these divine pills are readily available. This has only causes the quality of our physician practitioners to drop. Therefore if you are able to pass this trial, you will be initiated into the ranks of the Honor Ode as physician practitioners. If not the trial of the swords will await you for the third trial.”

Lu Xiankai nods silently. It seems that the Honor Ode values celestial practitioners above all else. This is followed by the physician practitioners and lastly the ones that can use a sword well.

Wuxi continues as he smiles broadly, “Who wants to be the first?”

Lu Xiankai is in no hurry to take the second trial and wait for his turn. He is at least confident in his ability to sniff the divine pills out. After all, he is very familiar with herbalism and has even concocted several rare divine pills in the past.

So he waits for the initiates to sniff the pills one by one as they gather six pills nervously to show it to Wuxi. Out of the forty initiates in front of him, so far, only seven initiates are able to pick the divine pills correctly.

When it is his turn to pick the divine pills, he is confident in his strides as he examines the pills inside the first urn. After sniffing a few pills, he is able to discern the divine pills and just pick one.

He did it for the second to the fifth urn as he muses. It is too easy, isn’t it?

When it is time for him to pick the divine pill from the sixth urn, he is now ballooning with conceit as he examines the pills in the urn. From the composite of these yellow pills, he knows that the composites are mostly Lofty Dews and Giga Roots. However these pills either lack the Justice Stems or the Silver Metallic Leaf. These four ingredients will create the Nine-nine Rejuvenation Pill.

After sniffing all the pills and much to the annoyances of the initiates that are still waiting for their turn for taking a much longer time than necessary, Lu Xiankai is smiling weakly to himself, “All the real divine pills have been taken by the ones before me. Is the Nine-nine Rejuvenation Pill so easy to identify or they are all so plain lucky?”

Finally, Lu Xiankai heaves a soft sign as he takes a random pill and gathers all the pills that he has collected to Master Practitioner Wuxi.

Master Practitioner Wuxi looks at him before he says coolly, “Good try but you’ve got the last pill wrong.”

Lu Xiankai turns to look at the other waiting initiates as he comments, “Do you think that you can pass just by rushing me?”

Immediately several of the initiates shouts angrily, “You! You are the failure! Not us!”

Wuxi silences them with a stern look, “Do you still have any respects for us?”

Immediately everyone keeps quiet.

It did not take long for the remaining initiates to take the testing and all of them have failed; it is exactly just as Lu Xiankai has commented.

Lu Xiankai smiles silently, “How could they have passed when there aren’t any divine pills in the sixth urn in the first place? Now there are only thirty-nine of us in this hall.”

Wuxi calls aloud, “Those of you over there, who has passed the second trial. What are you waiting for? Don’t tell me you want to forfeit your place as physician practitioner? Hurry and follow me to the Hall of Great Longevity where you will meet your new fellow protégés and masters.”

With that, he has left the hall.

Qiu Shengjun gives a jovial laughter as he looks sternly at the remaining thirty-nine initiates, “Good, good. It seems that the majority of the initiates are taking the third trial with me. The rules are simple. If you can take one sword blow from me without falling to the ground, then you will be accepted as a protégé of the Honor Ode Clan. So, who is on first?”

A fine looking man calmly walks to the center of the hall. He then displays his sword and says, “May Enlighten Celestial please give me your instructions.”

Qiu Shengjun smiles, “You have courage. Then you be on your guard and don’t die.” A beaming celestial aura then wraps around his sword and everyone is beginning to feel frightful for the first challenger.

Even Lu Xiankai is beginning to worry for the fine young man as he looks intently.

Without any further warning, there is a whoosh sound as a sword energy bursts out of Qiu Shengjun’s sword to strike with a thunderous impact upon sword of the fine looking man!

The fine looking man is forced to move back several steps back as he coughs out blood. His body is bent backward but he did not fall.

Needless to say, he has succeeded in passing the sword trial.

Qiu Shengjun nods and says approvingly, “You have passed. Step aside.”

Immediately the onlookers burst into thunderous claps and cheers.

Qiu Shengjun hums, “Who is the next challenger?”

Lu Xiankai knows that everyone is waiting for the others to take the challenge first. It is because even though Qiu Shengjun is an Enlighten Celestial, his celestial aura is bounded to be weakened at the constant sword energies display. And these initiates are not foolish for they are waiting for the best opportunity to succeed. For that fine looking man to offer to take the first challenge, he must have a lot of guts and determination.

Lu Xiankai stepped forward as he raises his blue scabbard, “I will be next.”

One maiden whispers to the other maiden, “He has such a charismatic aura…”

Another maiden comments, “Indeed…”

Qiu Shengjun says, “Draw your sword then.”

Lu Xiankai secretly curses in his heart, “Obviously you know that it is a wooden sword in my scabbard. If I were to draw my wooden sword then your sword energy would have killed me.” But he composes himself to smile before saying, “Since it is just a trial, it is unnecessary for me to take my sword out.”

Qiu Shengjun seems to be smiling wickedly as he says, “Very well then.” All of a sudden, the celestial aura on his sword seems to be doubled and it is obvious to everyone that Lu Xiankai is going to get a ‘special treatment’.

Many of the initiates begin to have jelly legs and are afraid.

Suddenly Qiu Shengjun has released his sword energy and it is much more powerful than the first sword energy!

There is a thunderous impact as the sword energy speed and explodes as Lu Xiankai raises his blue scabbard just in time to parry the speeding sword energy!

When the bursts of smoke have settled, everyone can see that Lu Xiankai was standing on the exact same spot and there is no injury on him.

Immediately, there are several murmurings and plenty of disbelief.

Lu Xiankai asks, “So I have passed?”

Qiu Shengjun looks a little disappointed but he says, “You have passed.”

Lu Xiankai breaks into a smile. That means that he is allowed to stay in the Honor Ode Clan now as a protégé.

Qiu Shengjun asks coldly, “So who is next? Don’t blame me if anyone of you is killed. I have already stayed my hand.”

One of the initiates, who has become pale mutters. “I…give up…”

Suddenly more than ten of the initiates are muttering out the same as well for none of them have any death wishes for the time being!

Nevertheless, more than twenty initiates have taken the sword trial. Among them, four are killed, ten are seriously injured. In the end there are only fifteen that have passed the sword trial.

Qiu Shengjun has not displayed the powerful sword energy that he has displayed upon Lu Xiankai. Therefore, many of the initiates wonder if Lu Xiankai has somehow got into a personal grudge with the Enlighten Celestial Qiu Shengjun.

Qiu Shengjun says nonchalantly, “Carry the dead out and tend to the injuries of the wounded. For those that have passed, I will see you in the Ode Sword Hall at the first break of dawn. Recuperate your internal injuries first. For those that have passed but should you succumb to your injuries then you don’t have to come tomorrow. I’ll consider that as a fail.”

He turns to glance at Lu Xiankai with a broad wicked smile before he walks off.

What else can Lu Xiankai do but to smile bitterly? It seems that Qiu Shengjun is all out to get back at him.

But there is only one thing in Lu Xiankai’s mind and that is Xue Yu…

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Chapter 8: True Beginning

It had been weeks since Lu Xiankai had joined Xue Yu and her party.

Except for some minor skirmishes with the demonic beasts and petty rival clans, there are no further lives that are lost.

Lu Xiankai is really delighted that he is able to travel with Xue Yu, who looks so much like the lover that he had loved dearly. He is sure that she is her reincarnation and after thousands of years, they have finally met again. He had never forgotten how he had caused her death. When he had met Xue Yu, his spirit is immediately lit up.

But something else is troubling him. He curses himself for being tempted by Feiyue Xingyue and had kissed her. Even until today, the scent of her kiss had lingered and he finds it impossible to forget her. He had thought that he would be immune to mortal sentiments given his state of divinity.

However he is more worried that she may betrays him. Then will this cause his plans for vendetta to be in vain? Can he even trust the Celestials…

Not only did Feiyue Xingyun forced him to tap into his reserve celestial force to elevate himself to the level of Immortal Celestial to battle her, he was also forced to reveal his true strength in front of her when she refused to abandon him.

If Feiyue Xingyun can see the intricate flow of his celestial energies then are there more celestial practitioners that are like her?

Maybe he should not even have given her the Blue Emperor Dragon scales in the first place especially if she is a potential enemy in the future.

It seems that he had made so many irrational mistakes and that is so unlike him.

She had even tried to kill him and to steal his blue scabbard…

Why then am I still helping her?

When he had threatened to take away her precious sword, she had so readily told him the sword name and there was a look of surrender in her look that he took pity on her, giving her back her precious sword and gifting the Blue Emperor Dragon scales to her.

That nightmare scene from thousands of years ago is still so vivid in his mind…

How long ago, he cannot exactly remember but he was the first Celestial to attain the Sacred Saint Level. After a thousand year, he had even attained as a peaked Sacred Saint. Some said that he was the first Immortal for no Celestial had ever live past a thousand year. Not only did he not age but his vigor is always in his prime.

But one day, a celestial maiden had approached him and pleaded with him to defeat the Blue Emperor Dragon that was terrorizing the Celestial Realm. That celestial maiden was Yeqiu Lingling, the woman that he had come to love…

During the intense battle with the Blue Emperor Dragon, a mysterious black robe man had appeared in the skies above and had struck him down with a tower of fiery divine fire. The might of that the fiery divine fire was so mighty that even the Blue Emperor Dragon was dragged by its fiery force and had fallen with him.

That mysterious man was not a Celestial or a Sacred Saint for his celestial force was totally out of the world. He did not even have a chance to see his face…

When he had regained conscious, all the surrounding mountains were toasted and the mountain forests were all vaporized. Only the Blue Emperor Dragon and he were left alive in the deepest ravine of the mountains. It was a lucky thing that he had possessed the Great Rejuvenation Force that he was left barely alive. The Blue Emperor Dragon was completely toasted by the divine fire and was dying.

His first thought was Yeqiu Lingling and he was overwhelmed with hot tears for he knew that she was watching the battle. Nothing would survive the burning divine fire…

Maybe because they were in the same dying flight that he took sympathy on the Blue Emperor Dragon that he used his Great Rejuvenation Force to ease its pain. Or maybe because he did not think that he could survive the divine fire ordeal that he had expended his Great Rejuvenation Force on it instead of himself.

But either way, he found his life force being linked with the Blue Emperor Dragon. Was that an innate unique ability of the Blue Emperor Dragon? But from that point onward, he had become inseparable from the Blue Emperor Dragon.

In a way, rather than say it was his Great Rejuvenation Force that had kept him alive, it was the tremendous life force of the Blue Emperor Dragon that sustained him in the end, enabling him to survive. Without each other, both would be a goner.

Hundreds of years passed, he had slowly regenerated his damaged organs and vital points. Finally in recent years, he had finally regained his celestial strength. But he still did not know who his enemy was.

Therefore he decided to return to the Celestial Fraternity to investigate what exactly happened in the past. In order to do so, he had used all his celestial force to seal the Blue Emperor Dragon into a blue scabbard artifact. Two purposes can be fulfilled; one is to conceal his true celestial strength and two is to have an ally in the form of the Blue Emperor Dragon against the mysterious man.

He looks at Xue Yu and silently mutters, “Yeqiu Lingling, my beloved…”

His thoughts are interrupted when a smiling Xue Yu suddenly points to the distant horizon as a walled city rises serenely in front of their moving party, “We have reached home. This is the Tearless City, where our clan holds dominion.”

Min Juan mutters as her eyes delights at the sight of the hundreds of mystical birds that are in the heavens, “Home at last…”

There are bleary tears among the men and women in the group. After all, it is not easy for them to make it back…

Only Qiu Shengjun displays no emotions for it is not the first time that he has been away for long missions. Throughout the centuries, he had witnessed the death of many of his companions and he had grown mute. He is more nervous on this mission because it is the first time that the Grandmaster has tasked his daughter, Xue Yu to this difficult undertaking.

The Grandmaster had said to him, “The other clans are watching my sons closely. They may even have their own spies within the clan. Therefore, I need you to handpick a dozen trusty Master Practitioners to escort Xue Yu to the Drifting Cloud Peak. This concerns the fate of our celestial clan. To the outsiders, my daughter will still be in her spiritual retreat…”

Xue Yu says in a commanding tone to Min Juan, disrupting Qiu Shengjun’s thoughts. “Min Juan, we will hurry back to our abode first. After we are back, you will announce that I am out of my spiritual retreat. After that, we will pay a visit to the Grandmaster.”

She looks at Lu Xiankai and says gently, “Enlighten Celestial Shengjun will find you a living quarter in the city. Do take care. Are you sure you want to take protégé trial? I can easily write a recommendation for you to join the clan as protégé.”

Lu Xiankai smiles, “I am sure that I will pass so that is unnecessary. Moreover, it is more discreet this way.”

He laughs as he pats Qiu Shengjun, “After all, I am sure that Brother Shengjun here will take good care of me during the trial too. Am I right?”

Qiu Shengjun grins but says nothing.

Xue Yu looks intently at Lu Xiankai, “Good luck to your trial. Farewell.”

Lu Xiankai looks at her longingly, “Farewell…”

Min Juan mutters, “It is not as if the two of you will really be apart.”

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Chapter 7: The Mystery deepens

Feiyue Xingyun stands in front of the monstrous form of the Blue Emperor Dragon. Never did she expect she will one day stand face to face with one of the most terrifying monsters of the Celestial Realm.

The Blue Emperor Dragon is surprisingly quiet and is like a looming doom that can explode into fury at any time.

And Feiyue Xingyun is trembling nonstop in the presence of this monstrous entity unable to react or move!

Lu Xiankai speeds to her and touches her back. Almost immediately, her cracked bones begin to heal and her celestial energy is smooth once again. She gasps, “Isn’t this the Great Rejuvenation Force? You know the Great Rejuvenation Force as well?”

But Lu Xiankai is quiet. He quickly heals her and seals his celestial force once more, causing the Blue Emperor Dragon to become diminish and to become a blue scabbard once again.

He lifts his blue scabbard and taps it lightly like a cherish child before he says quietly, “Tell no one what you have seen today. Swear.”

There is a terrifying malevolent air in his eyes that causes Feiyue Xingyun to tremble. She nods lightly and says, “I swear by the Divine Heavens above and the Sacred Gods of the Celestial Realm that I will never tell anyone what I have seen. If so, may my soul be sundered into the abyss, never to see the light of hope.”

It is a short but vicious oath.

Lu Xiankai seems to be satisfied as he says, “Remember your oath. Your wounds have been healed. You can go now.”

Feiyue Xingyun looks at him shyly and her eyes are bleary, “I really never expect that you will be a peaked Sacred Saint. It is inconceivable that a celestial expert such as you really exists in the Celestial Realm. I wonder when I can ever attain to your level of divinity.”

Lu Xiankai stares in the blank air as he mutters, “One day, you may be able to achieve it. You’re already very close.”

Is this a comfort?

He knows in his heart that the barrier between a Golden Celestial and a Sacred Saint will be very hard. Only 1 out of every 100 Golden Celestials may be able to achieve this impasse and be a Sacred Saint.

Feiyue Xingyun smiles bitterly as she says, “There was a legend in the Celestial Realm that there was once a celestial practitioner who was the first to become a Sacred Saint. He was also said to be one of the first celestial to challenge the Blue Emperor Dragon, one of the Ancient Demonic Beasts of the land. But no one seemed to know if he succeeded or not until the Blue Emperor Dragon was sighted a few centuries later. At this point, everyone knows that the Sacred Saint was dead, presumably killed by the Blue Emperor Dragon.”

She pauses briefly, “But I know differently now. I am curious to know the story behind that…”

Lu Xiankai interrupts her, “I will not tell you anything. So it is pointless for you to ask. If you’re not leaving then I am.” And he has already started to walk away.

Feiyue Xingyun speeds in front of him, “Then you are here for the Ascendancy of the Immortal Sword?”

Lu Xiankai stops in his track while Feiyue Xingyun continues, “In the coming months, a rare celestial event will occur and the immortal sword will descend upon the Celestial Realm. Almost all the Golden Celestials that are verse in divination know of this upcoming occurrence and are preparing to seize the immortal sword for themselves. Even I am not an exception. Maybe even you…”

But Lu Xiankai did not wait for her to finish as he suddenly speed ahead of him and disappears up the cliff.

Feiyue Xingyun knows that her hunch is right.

She sighs softly, “This is the times of trouble. Everyone seeks the immortal sword to advance their celestial practice. But I wonder why a peak Sacred Saint will want to seek an immortal sword? Is there a foe that even a Sacred Saint is not able to handle?”

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Chapter 6: The Blue Scabbard

Lu Xiankai coughs out blood as he attempts to stand but he soon collapses weakly backward into a sitting position. He must have broken several of his bones from the result of the fall.

He takes a look at the veiled assailant and she seems to be in the same similar situation as him. But he has one advantage over her; he still got his blue scabbard and her sword is in his scabbard.

The veiled assailant looks hatefully at him, “To think that my celestial star will descend in a place like this.”

Lu Xiankai smiles bitterly, “I don’t think that I’ve known you to cause such enmity.”

The veiled assailant shifts her eyes uncomfortably, “We have never met before and there is no enmity between us.”

Lu Xiankai blinks his eyes, “And you attacked me?”

The veiled assailant coughs softly, “At this stage now, I don’t want to mask my intentions anymore. I’ve come to steal your blue scabbard.”

Lu Xiankai looks at his blue scabbard, “You want to steal my blue scabbard?”

The veiled assailant nods, “If I am not mistaken, your blue scabbard is made from the hide of the Blue Emperor Dragon. It is one of the most important catalysts to further my celestial practice. As a matter of fact, I’ve been roaming the Great Northern Territories for several months to find a suitable artifact catalyst till I’ve spotted the Blue Emperor Dragon.”

Lu Xiankai nods. These celestials will do anything to advance their celestial practice. He sighs softly, “You’ve set your target a little too high. It will be quite impossible for a Golden Celestial to challenge that monster.”

The veiled assailant nods lightly before saying weakly, “I don’t disagree with that. But when I had lost track of the Blue Emperor Dragon and chanced upon you, I’ve suddenly realized that your blue scabbard seems to be made of the same material as the Blue Emperor Dragon. Stealing from you is apparently easier.”

But she quickly adds, “Apparently not.”

Lu Xiankai brandishes her sword from his blue scabbard and stares at the golden runic blade, “It is indeed a beautiful precious sword. Sword, sword, today you are going to have a new master…”

The veiled assailant says melancholy, “The sword is christened Sorrowburns. Don’t forget.”

Lu Xiankai remarks, “What a good name. I will remember the name of this precious sword.”

He looks at her, “You are at the intermediate stage of the Golden Celestial level?”

The veiled assailant nods quietly.

There are three stages for each of the celestial rank. Lower, Intermediate and Upper Stage.

Lu Xiankai asks, “If you are able to obtain the scales of the Blue Emperor Dragon, you will be able to advance to the Upper Stage of the Golden Celestial level?”

The veiled assailant answers, “That will depend if I will be able to amalgamate it into my celestial force.”

All of a sudden Lu Xiankai throws her sword and it lands next to her, “You may keep your precious sword and…”

He has also thrown six glittering blue scales around her sword, “This is the Blue Emperor Dragon’s scales.”

The veiled assailant is startled, “You are…giving the Blue Emperor Dragon’s scales to me? At what price?”

Lu Xiankai yawns and gives her a lazy look, “What do you think is a fair trade?”

The veiled assailant is startled and she begins to shiver lightly. It is obvious to her what Lu Xiankai wants from her. In the celestial realm, there is really no free lunch.

Slowly she takes off her veiled straw hat as she says, “You must promise me that you won’t hurt me. And don’t you dare to tell anyone about this.”

When she has taken off her veil, it is Lu Xiankai turn to be startled and astonished. It is because he is now staring at the most exquisite maiden that he has ever seen and that her extraordinary beauty pierces through his very heart!

Her golden eyes are however determined and she has slipped her robe slowly off her body. Any man will surely be boiling with lust and Lu Xiankai is not an exception.

Lu Xiankai is soon kissing her on her sweet lips and holding her into his embrace. Suddenly he slips her robe up and sighs, “Even though I am a hot blooded man and you are desirable but I have already someone in my heart. What’s more, we really need to recuperate first.”

He is expecting her to quickly slip out of his embrace but instead she tightens her grip and hold onto him even tighter. He purposely coughs aloud, “Did you hear what I have just said? Don’t tell anyone my celestial level and that will be a fair trade off.”

But the exquisite beautiful maiden looks up to him and says gently, “Do you think that I will give myself to just anyone? You are a strong, a strong celestial practitioner with plenty of potential in the future. Even though you are just an Immortal Celestial now but you appear to be on the Upper Stage now. In no time you will be a Golden Celestial…” She pauses awhile before adding, “Just like me. And we’ll be a match under the heavens and maybe, maybe we can even advance as Sacred Saint. I can even reveal to you my clan secret celestial arts so that you can advance to a Golden Celestial. You must know that without any help, each celestial stage will take centuries and the transition from a new divinity level to the next divinity level is impossibly difficult.”

Lu Xiankai smiles weakly, “Indeed this is a little difficult to refuse. Not only do I get the celestial secrets of a Golden Celestial, I will also get a celestial beauty to dual celestial with. However…”

He suddenly loosens himself from her and says firmly, “I refuse.”

The exquisite beauty is stunned but she quickly composes herself as she lowers her eyes, “If that is not our destiny then so be it. Your name is Lu Xiankai?”

Lu Xiankai nods. She must have overheard his name while trailing him.

She continues, “My name is Feiyue Xingyun. I am from the Holy Enigma City. You can look for me there…”

All of a sudden there is a thunderous roar from the tall groves and the ground is trembling nonstop!

Lu Xiankai and the Feiyue Xingyun are startled and even more startled to see a gigantic beast with a large horn approaching them aggressively.

Feiyue Xingyun turns pale immediately, “This is the Hyperion Horned Rhino. A fifth grade demonic beast.”

The Blue Emperor Dragon is a Ninth Grade Demonic Beast while the Red Eyes Demon is a Sixth Grade Demonic Beast. While a fifth Grade Demonic Beast is still no match for a Golden Celestial under normal circumstance but both Feiyue Xingyun and Lu Xiankai are both seriously injured with almost all their celestial force depleted.

Lu Xiankai says, “There is an opening in the ravine behind us. Quickly make your escape. I will hold this monster off.”

Feiyue Xingyun says solemnly as she brandishes her golden sword weakly, “I will not flee or leave you alone. It is pointless. It may be our fates to perish here today.” It is obvious that she lacks any strength for her sword hand is trembling and she cannot steady her sword stance. She lowers her eyes, “Lu Xiankai, thank you for your kiss. I am happy to know you before my celestial star descend.”

Lu Xiankai sighs softly as he thrust his blue scabbard into the ground, “I didn’t want to do this but it seems that I have no other choice now but to unseal you now.”

An explosive white force begins to envelop around the blue scabbard as a stroke of lightning strikes it at the same time with a thunderous impact!

To the startled shock of Feiyue Xingyun, the blue scabbard begins to expand rapidly until it becomes the monstrous figure of the Blue Emperor Dragon!

Even the Hyperion Horned Rhino is taken completely by surprise but before it can react, the Blue Emperor Dragon has already cracked its skull with its gigantic claw with just a single hit!

Feiyue Xingyun turns to look at Lu Xiankai and is even more startled to see that he is being surrounded by a white golden animus, clearly marking him as a Sacred Saint!

She gasps in disbelief, “He is a Sacred Saint? The highest ranking celestial…” She recollects her thoughts rapidly, “Don’t tell me that he has suppressed most of his celestial force in order to seal the Blue Emperor Dragon into that blue scabbard? No wonder I have suddenly lost sight of the Blue Emperor Dragon? But even for a Sacred Saint, is it even possible to seal the Blue Emperor Dragon?”

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Chapter 5: The Battle

Lu Xiankai walks rapidly and deep into the towering forest. After what seems to be a long time and feeling isolate enough, he says coldly. “You can come out now. Don’t you feel tired of trailing me like this?”

The same feminine assailant that he had encountered earlier walks out of the shadows as she says behind her veil, “Oh, so you know after all.”

Lu Xiankai asks, “Have we met before?”

The feminine assailant hums coldly as she unsheathes her beaming long sword, “Since you have so conveniently put yourself out of the reach of the others, why don’t you ask your maker who your killer is?”

With that, she has enveloped herself with a startling golden aura that causes the dust and pebbles to scatter around her!

Her malevolent air is so startling that the entire forest seems to turn dark and lightning begins to flash across the skies.

Lu Xiankai sighs softly as he knows that it will not be easy to break this impetrating celestial force and moreover, this is the celestial force of a Golden Celestial.

Slowly, he lifts his blue scabbard and put on a defensive posture.

Barely has he readied his posture, the feminine assailant is upon him.

Lu Xiankai raises his scabbard to block her attack but the action of blocking causes him to fly backward with a thunderous impact on a tree!

The feminine assailant whispers, “If you are still unwilling to get serious, the next attack will surely kill you.”

She has raised her fingers and six golden beaming swords are summoned, “Intricate Golden Mystic Swords.” With that, she has loosened the six energy swords upon Lu Xiankai.

Lu Xiankai is startled as he quickly lifts his blue scabbard in front of him to deflect the six golden sword energies as a blue aura envelopes him.

The feminine assailant says coldly, “Blue celestial aura? Are you only an Immortal Celestial? That is still a level below than me and that is fatal.”

Lu Xiankai hums coldly, “Don’t be too cocky. Even a lowly Immortal Celestial can still bring you down.”

The feminine assailant hums even colder as she takes a step forward, “Oh, I wonder why you suddenly have your celestial force? It comes from that blue scabbard? So that’s where you have been hiding your celestial strength? Interesting.”

Lu Xiankai is secretly startled, “She knows where I have been secretly storing my celestial force just by having a look?”

The feminine assailant has seen his startled expression so she says, “I am gifted to see the flow of intricate celestial energies. Therefore this isn’t any secret to me.”

Lu Xiankai curses softly, “I have never expected that someone with this talent exists in the celestial realm. But…”

All of a sudden Lu Xiankai has focused all his celestial force into a tremendous force that harkens like a blue dragon. This is his secret technique, the Dragon Spirit.

The feminine assailant is startled as she takes several steps backward as she forms a celestial formation with her Intricate Golden Mystic Swords.

There is a thunderous implosion as the tremendous force of the Dragon Spirit collides with the celestial formation of the Intricate Golden Mystic Swords. But even before the dust and force have settled, they are already flashing their scabbard and sword at each other!

The feminine assailant slashes with her sword wildly, creating multiple sword energies that implode thunderously while Lu Xiankai attacks her with his scabbard and fingers!

The feminine assailant says coldly as she throws him several wild strokes that zip zap, “Your speed is praiseworthy. I must admit that I am a little surprised that a mere Immortal Celestial is able to match my speed.”

Lu Xiankai avoids the zip zap strokes as he sped up and down, blending defense and attack as one with his scabbard. “Who are you?…”

Barely has he said that, the ground beneath them has suddenly collapsed and they are plunged down to the bottom!

The feminine assailant is startled too but she quickly reacts by mustering her golden aura into two spreading wings to levitate upward but Lu Xiankai reacts by catching hold of her leg.

“You!…Let go of me…” She shouts at him and slashes at him with her sword but Lu Xiankai catches her sword by sheathing it into his scabbard as he grins, “You’re not wearing anything under your robe…”

She shouts angrily, “Rubbish!”

The feminine assailant seems to lose her celestial energy upon hearing that as she temporary lost her flight ability and this causes the two to plunge down the ravine below!

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Chapter 4: The Golden Celestial

Many days had passed since Lu Xiankai had joined the party. They had traversed multiple mountain paths without any major hitch except for some minor fights with some weaker demon beasts in the area. Those were however quickly dispatched by Qiu Shengjun.

Xue Yu whispers to Lu Xiankai as they stand at a distance as they overlook the rest of the party, “Isn’t the view beautiful?”

Lu Xiankai nods slowly as he appraises the views.

“You’re not a mortal but a member of our celestial race, am I right?” Xue Yu whispers gently in his ears.

Lu Xiankai is startled as he looks at Xue Yu, not saying anything.

Xue Yu looks quietly at him as she sighs softly, “You may have fooled the others but not me. While it may be true that only a mortal has no celestial energies in their veins and even an ordinary celestial practitioner has some. This difference alone marks the boundaries between who is a mortal and a celestial.”

Lu Xiankai nods as he continues to listen.

“However, there are instances when a celestial practitioner will have no celestial energies. One is when they have completely expended it. Two is when they have chosen to suppress it to walk among the mortals. You may have fooled the others but not me. However, you have made two mistakes.”

Lu Xiankai asks indifferently, “What two mistakes?”

Xue Yu smiles, “Firstly, no matter how many years a mortal trains himself, there is no way they can pierce the skull of the Four Eyes Demon for its skull is hard as the hardest metal. That is the reason why we have thought that the wooden sword that is in your hand is a divine sword.” She pauses to add, “You have been too quick to show us your sword.”

“Secondly, your movements are too precise and too quick. Only a superior celestial is known to move in such a manner. This is beyond the speed of an accomplished mortal fighter already. If you really use a wooden sword to pierce the Four Eyes Demon skull, then your level of speed must be insanely astonishing for you to pierce and withdrawn the wooden sword at the same time without even breaking it.”

She says cautiously, “So why are you showing an interest in our group?”

Lu Xiankai sighs softly, “I guess that it is not easy to fool an Immortal Celestial.”

Xue Yu smiles, “I don’t think you can fool Qiu Shengjun either. He isn’t as dense as he looks. So why then did you come in the guise of a mortal rather than a celestial?”

Lu Xiankai looks intently at the distant skies, “I have my own reasons for that. As for why I am here, it is for you.”

Xue Yu asks curiously, “For me? You are a spy for the other celestial clans?”

Lu Xiankai smiles, “To make you my woman.”

Xue Yu is startled as she takes a shy look at him, “You’re being ridiculous. I am already engaged…”

Lu Xiankai says slowly, “I know. I’ve asked the Prophetess all about you.”

Xue Yu blinks her eyes but she quickly composes herself, “What makes you think I will want to be your woman?”

Lu Xiankai seems to be looking at a faraway place as he says, “You look just like her. I’ve failed to protect her but I will protect you…”

Xue Yu throws him a melancholy l look, “Just because I resemble her? I don’t need you to protect. I can take care of myself…” She is interrupted by a dropping pebble that is on top.

Both Xue Yu and Lu Xiankai shout at the same time, “Who is that?”

“Such touching gestures but unfortunately it seems that this lady here isn’t impressed by your flattery,” a feminine voice echoes. This has the effect of startling Xue Yu and Lu Xiankai at the same time.

But before they can react, a black feminine form has appears in their midst and has raised her palms against them!

Xue Yu quickly fends with her sword while Lu Xiankai has quickly raised his blue scabbard to block her attacks. But before they can react further, the black feminine form has enveloped herself with a golden aura and has taken flight up the mountains. She has disappeared as quickly as she has appeared.

Both Xue Yu and Lu Xiankai break into cold sweat; judging by the golden aura that they had just seen, there is no doubt that the mysterious assailant is a Golden Celestial. What is a Golden Celestial doing in a place like this?

Qiu Shengjun, Min Juan and the rest of the party have heard of the commotions and they have quickly arrived at the scene. They too have seen the mysterious black assailant and the accompanying golden aura.

Qiu Shengjun asks nervously, “Shall we pursue?”

Xue Yu says quietly, “Even if we all add up together, we may not even defeat a Golden Celestial. It could be that the Golden Celestial is just passing through.”

She shoots a glance Lu Xiankai before adding, “Still, it doesn’t seem safe for us to remain here for too long. Let’s us be on our move immediately.”

Qiu Shengjun nods while muttering, “What is a Golden Celestial doing here?”

Lu Xiankai taps his blue scabbard quietly as he looks up the cliff where the Golden Celestial had disappeared, “Did my skills deteriorate this much now? That I cannot even detect an intruder at this range?”

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Chapter 3: The Divine Sword

An elegant veiled lady heaves a soft sigh of relief as her group left the dark recesses of the Moon Demon Forest. It had been weeks since they had first entered it and they are glad to see the familiar lofty peaks of the celestial fraternity again.

The elegant veiled lady is Xue Yu, young mistress of the Honor Ode Clan. She looks intently at the rolling clouds below the mountains and stellar light above. Her eyes give a brilliant spark as she turns around to face her group.

Min Juan has also heaves a sigh of relief, “We’re finally outside the boundaries of the Moon Demon Forest now. We should be safe now.” Then she turns to Qiu Shengjun to ask, “Who do you think that Lu Xiankai is?”

Qiu Shengjun is clearly displeased as he replies, “What is wrong with you? Why did you suddenly bring up that man’s name? No matter who he is, I don’t like him at all. It is lucky thing that he did not stay for long or I will surely beat him to a bloody pulp.”

Xue Yu sighs softly, “He is our benefactor after all. Remember that without him, I would have already been killed by that Red Eyes Demon. It is fortunate that we are able to accomplish our mission without any more troubles.”

Min Juan nods quietly, “Out of the twenty-four protégés that we have started off with, only fifteen remains now. This mission is not easy at all.”

Then she smiles, “Mistress, you are the only one in the presence of the Prophetess. What does she look like and can you shed a light on what it is being exchanged?”

Xue Yu replies, “The Prophetess has a quiet demeanor. Forbidden and cold. As for what is being exchanged, this is a secret and I can only answer to the grandmaster.”

Min Juan giggles, “Mistress but I’m really curious…”

“I’m curious to know as well,” a familiar voice interrupts.

A black shadowy figure flashes in front of them, startling them as everyone draws out their swords in alarm.

It is Lu Xiankai and he is smiling broadly to the surprised party, “Hold, hold. I am not your enemy. It is just that I have just heard of a disturbing account of someone wishing to beat me to a pulp.”

Qiu Shengjun points his sword at him as he says angrily, “Have you been following us? How audacious!”

Xue Yu is startled to see Lu Xiankai again. Ever since they had parted, she has been wondering who he is. He had appeared and left before they could question him more. Is he an Enlighten Celestial or an Immortal Celestial?

Xue Yu asks curiously as she cast him a shy look, “Benefactor, it’s you again. How have you been?”

Lu Xiankai smiles as he bows with his hands, “Beautiful maiden, we have met again. You know something. I’m thinking that I may want to join the Honor Ode Clan…”

Qiu Shengjun interrupts angrily, “Wishful thinking!”

Lu Xiankai smiles as he looks at him, “It is just a thought.”

Xue Yu quickly says, “The honor is ours if our clan can have a celestial master such as you to join us.”

Qiu Shengjun mutters unhappily, “Isn’t this like inviting an enemy to be in our midst? Protégé Mistress, I will not advise that. Moreover we do not know his background at all.”

Xue Yu says quietly but sternly, “This is no way to treat our benefactor.”

She quickly smiles at Lu Xiankai and says, “If benefactor does not mind, you may follow us to the Honor Ode Clan. Once we have returned, we will surely extend our fullest hospitality to you. Along the way, we can also take care of one another.”

Lu Xiankai is surprised that he has actually got the invitation to follow them. It is because he had been thinking of how to approach them to follow them. This time, he mutters with hesitation, “Then I offer my thanks…”

Xue Yu smiles, “May we know your celestial rank so that our party can know how to address you?”

There are six ranks to the celestial rank; Practitioner, Master Practitioner, Enlighten Celestial, Immortal Celestial, Golden Celestial and Sacred Saint.

Once a celestial attains the 3rd celestial rank onward, they will also gain honorific titles which represent their status in the celestial fraternity. The titles to be used for addressing these superior celestials are Enlighten Celestial (上仙 ), Immortal Celestial (上神), Great Immortal (尊上) for Golden Celestial and  Great Saint (神尊) for the Sacred Saint.

Lu Xiankai smiles weakly as he says, “Unfortunately, I do not have any celestial energies in my veins and cannot be counted as a celestial fellow.”

Xue Yu is genuinely surprised, “You’re…not a celestial?”

Even her party is startled and they are all muttering among themselves.

Lu Xiankai smiles awkwardly, “I wish I am though. Unfortunately even a lowly celestial will be able to defeat me with their celestial force.”

Xue Yu stares at him in bewilderment. No ordinary man can pierce through the skull of the Red Eyes Demon. Even for a powerful celestial, it is still a monument feat to do so. But he had single handedly killed one. Moreover, he has a divine sword in his hands and a great amount of celestial energies is required to wield a divine sword. In short, only an Enlighten Celestial and above can wield one.

Xue Yu says slowly, blinking her astonished eyes, “Great Celestial, you must be teasing us? In order for you to wield your divine sword to such an expert proficiency, it will require years of celestial practice and divine harmony with it.”

Qiu Shengjun interrupts coldly, “With your level of expertise and a divine sword in your hand, who are you kidding when you are not a celestial?”

Lu Xiankai throws him his beautiful blue scabbard and he is grinning, “Why don’t you take a look? You mean this is a divine sword?”

Qiu Shengjun curiously pulls the sword from its beautiful blue scabbard and is shocked to see that it is but a wooden sword!

He mutters, “This…”

Even Xue Yu and Min Juan are startled for they are expected to see a golden divine sword within the scabbard!

Xue Yu says quietly to Lu Xiankai, “Please show me your pulse.”

Lu Xiankai did as he is told and lifts his hand for her to examine.

Xue Yu suddenly looks at Lu Xiankai with disbelief in her startled eyes as she stammers, “He…really doesn’t have any celestial energies in his veins!”

Min Juan and Qiu Shengjun look at each other with astonishment as they say at the same time, “He is really not a celestial practitioner?”

Lu Xiankai looks at Xue Yu and humbly says, “I know however that you are an Immortal Celestial.”

Xue Yu is startled, “How do you know?”

It is because along the way, she has been concealing her celestial aura and taking care not to display her true level unless under forced circumstances. But she did not remember revealing her celestial aura to Lu Xiankai.

Lu Xiankai says matter of fact, “The Prophetess told me.”

Xue Yu asks, “You have been to the Drifting Cloud Peak?”

Lu Xiankai nods slowly.

Xue Yu appraises him for a few moments before she smiles endearingly, “I’m sure that you do not want to share with us your business there and I am unable to share the same with you. Celestial or mortal, you are welcomed to follow us as our benefactor. Our clan will reward you handsomely when we’ve returned.”

Lu Xiankai smiles and bows with his hands, “Immortal Celestial. Then let me offer my gesture of gratitude in advance first!”

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Chapter 2: Drifting Cloud Peak

On a lofty mountain peak, surrounded by an impossible impasses of mountains and deserts, is a palace. In that palace, dwells the Prophetess of the Drifting Cloud. It is said that anyone that approaches the Prophetess of the Drifting Cloud will be able to exchange with her a secret.

A young man with a sword hanging by his side has calmly walked into the grand hall of the palace, unobstructed by the dozens of young serving maidens that stood serenely as he approaches; it is as though that they have already known that he is coming.

In the middle of the grand hall, an exquisite veiled beautiful lady is in meditation. As he approaches, she slowly lit her eyelids and say, “Welcome to the Drifting Cloud Peak.”

The young man appears to be surprised as he laughs softly, “What an exquisite lady. I have never seen anyone as out of ordinary and like an immortal fairy.” Then he asks, “Then you must be the Prophetess?”

The exquisite beautiful lady gives a gentle smile with her brightening eyes, saying. “Indeed. I’m the Prophetess. A secret for a secret. Speak, what knowledge do you seek but you are expected to pay a worthy secret in weight in exchange for it.”

The young man bows respectfully, “I’m Lu Xiankai. I believe that a day ago, a group of protégés from the Honor Ode Clan has come to this place?”

The exquisite beautiful lady says, “I’m afraid that this is a secret that we’re unable to reveal. The first rule of the Drifting Cloud Peak is not to reveal who our clienteles are.”

Lu Xiankai smiles, “That is not important. I’ve already known who they are for I’ve followed them.”

The exquisite beautiful lady kept quiet before she asks, “What is it that you seek?”

Lu Xiankai says, “That Maiden Xue Yu, I want to know everything about her.”

The exquisite beautiful lady growls softly, “You have come for something so trivial?”

Lu Xiankai smiles, “It is not trivial at all. Also tell me what the current affairs in the lands are now.”

The exquisite beautiful lady looks at Lu Xiankai ponderingly for a while before she says, “Again, you have asked for something so trivial. You have braved untold hardships and dangers just to ask for something so trivial?”

Lu Xiankai smiles, “Unfortunately, I don’t think I have any valuable celestial secrets that I can exchange at the moment.”

The exquisite beautiful lady asks, “So what can you offer?”

Lu Xiankai takes out a map and says, “How about the map of the Great Northern Territories?”

The exquisite beautiful lady takes out the Mirror of Truth and immediately flashes it upon Lu Xiankai before she loses her composure to say, “This…this is really the map of the Great Northern Territories? How do you get it?”

Lu Xiankai laughs softly, “I’ve mapped it myself of course. So, do we have a deal?”

The exquisite beautiful lady shudders and says, “I’m afraid that your map is far more valuable and the exchange won’t be equaled. So the deal cannot be done…”

All of a sudden the exquisite beautiful lady is startled to see that Lu Xiankai is next to her and is lifting her chin with his fingers and loosening her veil as he says gently, “You are a Golden Celestial? It seems that your attainment is even higher than Xue Yu. If you think that your secrets are not equaled, why don’t you give me your golden body instead?”

Immediately all the sword maiden attendants begin to draw their swords as they cry out angrily, “Let go of your hands from the Prophetess!”

The exquisite beautiful lady is stunned by how swift Lu Xiankai has moved. Normally, it is impossible to even move ten paces within her for she is a Golden Celestial; one of the strongest celestials. Suddenly, she felt as though she is naked as he looks down upon her revealing dress.

And when she tries to move, she is unable to move for she seems to be beholden to his charms. Mustering all her will, she gasps. “I’m the Prophetess. I am vowed to celibacy and neutrality…”

Lu Xiankai says gently, “Rules are all man-made and are meant to be broken if necessary, especially if it means serving a necessarily need. Am I right?”

The exquisite beautiful lady stammers as she blushes, “This is an impossible request. I can’t…”

Lu Xiankai interrupts, “Lady, what is your name?”

The exquisite beautiful lady finds herself answering, “Song Ziyun.”

Lu Xiankai says, “Hmm, Lady Song Ziyun. My map for the two requests. Shall we have an exchange then?”

The exquisite beautiful lady blushes before she slowly nods, “Let it be then. Can you please step back a little?”

Lu Xiankai laughs as he straightens himself and walks backward, “Good. I know that Lady Ziyun has an empathy to my cause. Shall we continue then?”

Lady Song Ziyun nods and says, “Xue Yu, Immortal Celestial of the Honor Ode Clan. Unattached but is betrothed to the young master of the Sky Heavens Clan. She has been practicing for three hundred years and is one of the youngest to be an Immortal Celestial at the age of 210. She is the youngest daughter of the grandmaster of the Honor Ode Clan and she has two older brothers.”

She smiles and asks, “May I know why Master Xiankai is so interested in her?”

Lu Xiankai laughs, “That is my secret. You need to pay me a secret to know. How about the current affairs of the realm? Which clans hold the sway nowadays?”

Lady Song Ziyun smiles mysteriously, “Out of the thousands of celestial clans, there are only nine major celestial clans that are able to be called the strongest for all the other celestial clans are aligned to them. They are known as the Patriarch Celestial Clans. These nine major celestial clans all have their fair share of Golden Celestials and Immortal Celestials or else they wouldn’t be at the pinnacle. And the Honor Ode Clan is one of the nine major celestial clans.”

She pauses briefly before adding, “The other eight major celestial clans are the Sky Heavens Clan, Golden Autumn Manor, Divine Sword Clan, Hundred Paths Clan, Invincible Iron Sect, Sacred Dragon Clan, Purple Flowers Sect and the Holy Enigma City. Together, they pull the affairs of the realm. Their rivalries and alliances are many and ever changing.”

Lu Xiankai mutters, “It seems that I can only recognize the Holy Enigma City and maybe even the Sky Heavens Clan. The Sky Heavens Clan is but a small clan back then.”

Lady Song Ziyun looks at Lu Xiankai as she says, “It seems that you’ve been away for a long time then.”

Lu Xiankai smiles, “Indeed, indeed.” With that, he has departed.

Lady Song Ziyun takes a forlorn look at the direction where he had departed before she commands sternly, “Record his name in the celestial scroll. I want our scouts to track his whereabouts.”

Slowly she lifts the map that he has left behind and is even more astonished, “The map that he has left behind has the various celestial resources listed in such detail? Who is he?”

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