As Jing Yue stepped out from the bookstore, he came face-to-face with the disciple of Frostcloud Sect, Qianyue, and the young master who had been invited to join the sect.
Qianyue walked in front while the young master closely behind, and they were followed by a large crowd of onlookers.
Jing Yue keenly noticed that even though the young master tried to hide it, his vanity still leaked through, and when he glanced around at the crowd, it was full of disdain.
Presumably, the young master possessed a talented spiritual root and was pampered by his family members since young, resulting in his arrogance. If he continued this way, however, he would not go too far on his path of Dao.
As he pondered over it, Jing Yue and the young master’s eyes unexpectedly collided.
When Liu Tianhao laid eyes on the young man, he saw that although he was dressed plainly, his gaze was full of resolute and overwhelming, and he could not help but feel jealous and disgusted.
Jing Yue could sense his contempt. He changed his mind, concealed his divine consciousness, displayed his cultivation level, and walked up to Qianyue in just a few steps.
“Fairy, please hold on for a moment.”
Qianyue’s attitude was quite friendly, and she asked with a smile, “How may I help you?”
Jing Yue clasped his hands in a greeting, “I’ve heard about the news spread by Frostcloud Sect that you’re keen to invite all the talented young cultivators to go up the mountain and learn about Dao. I’m also keen to embark on the path of Dao, and wonder if I could go along with Fairy?”
Qianyue was taken aback. It was the first time she was approached so directly, but the youth appeared quite sincere, so she released her divine consciousness to investigate further. This action revealed that the youth was already at level-2 Qi Refining, and her astonishment was quickly replaced by pleasant surprise. She replied in a hurry, “Of course, you may follow us.”
Jing Yue, “Thank you, Fairy.”
He walked up to the young master, “Hello, may I ask for your name?”
Liu Tianhao was shocked, angry, and felt sick with disgust. He could not tell Jing Yue’s cultivation level, and he was also unhappy about Qianyue’s hasty decision, but he did not dare to show it. He just clasped his hands perfunctorily, “Liu Tianhao.”
Jing Yue, “Liu-shixiong^, my name is Jing Yue.”
(TN: Shixiong 师兄 =Senior Brother)
Although Jing Yue mentioned his real name, there was no response from Qianyue. It was not that she did not respect the ancestor’s name, but very few people actually knew Jing Yue’s real name.
After he became successful in his past life, he had been using Jing Yuan as his Dao name to explore the world of cultivation. As he gained strength and reputation, even people who knew his real name would not dare to call it. After a while, people only knew the name Jing Yuan, not Jing Yue.
The group gradually arrived at the city gates, and Qianyue released a flying magic weapon, a sapphire scepter. The scepter grew larger and larger, about the size of a small boat. With a flick of Qianyue’s wrist, Jing Yue felt a gust of air current at his feet which supported him up to the flying weapon.
It was not until all three of them had disappeared from everyone’s sight that someone finally asked weakly, “That kid… followed them up the mountains just like that?”
Another person asked confusedly, “What talents does he possess? Just one question and the fairy agreed to bring him along?”
A person with a higher cultivation level sighed, “That child is eleven or twelve at the most, but already at level 2 Qi Refining, how could the sect refuse him? Even the young master of the Liu family had just guided Qi into his body.”
Level 2 Qi Refining? Everyone was astounded. Did that kid start cultivating in his mother’s belly? Otherwise, how could he be so quick? Their brains raced with all sorts of possibilities, when a man suddenly exclaimed, “I knew he was extraordinary!”
This was the guy who had been chatting with Jing Yue all the while. At this time, he was inexplicably proud of himself. As the crowd gathered around him curiously, he wagged his eyebrows and started bragging about it.
“…I was just telling him about the Frostcloud Sect when suddenly, his expression darkened, but very soon after that, he started smiling in relief. It looks as if he was caught in a mind-trap, but he broke out of the barrier very quickly. Could he have experienced enlightenment?”
The crowd gave thumbs up to that assumption. He was truly a genius to have experienced enlightenment just with that little bit of gossip.
On the other end, Qianyue had brought Jing Yue and Liu Tianhao across the boundary of Lakhfrig Mountains and entered the territory of Frostcloud Sect.
The scenery before them changed in a flash. It was no longer the ice-cold and snow-covered barren ridge, but a land full of verdant vigor and swirling mists.
Qianyue retracted her magic weapon and all three of them landed safely on the ground. In their vision, a boundary stone that towered high into the clouds stood before them, with the words ‘Han Yun Zong’ aka Frostcloud Sect carved into it.
The writing on the stone was cursive like the bodies of dragons and serpents, the aura oppressive. Liu Tianhao felt a massive weight on his body, as if a thousand mountains were pressed against him, and he nearly bowed down from the pressure. If Qianyue had not grabbed hold of him in time, he would have embarrassed himself!
Liu Tianhao’s face was bright red with exertion, but Qianyue was quite used to it. She wanted to grab hold of Jing Yue too, but she suddenly realized that not only was he not affected, he even lifted his head and stared at the boundary stone directly.
How was that possible?
Qianyue thought her eyes were playing tricks on her!
The words on the stone were handwritten by Daoist-Master Jing Yuan himself, ten thousand years ago, and every stroke was filled with immense power. Under normal circumstances, people with a low cultivation base could only withstand the pressure by bringing a sect token with them, so how could Jing Yue…
Qianyue suddenly recalled a rumor circulating within the sect, and her heart started beating rapidly. She quickly said, “We’re not allowed to fly on sect grounds. Let’s hurry up the mountain.”
Jing Yue turned around, and his gaze fell on the stone steps behind the boundary stone, the pathway leading high up and gradually disappeared into the white fog, with dense trees and flowers on both sides.
Every flower, every grass, every leaf, and tree in the Frostcloud Sect was familiar to Jing Yue, even though ten thousand years had passed.
After a quarter of an hour, they reached the main entrance.
Two junior disciples guarded on both sides of the doors, and they called in unison, “Qianyue-shijie^.”
(TN: 师姐 Shijie = Senior Sister)
One of them seemed quite familiar with Qianyue and he grinned cheekily, “Eh, how come there’s another one?”
Qianyue was quite anxious so she merely asked, “Is the Sect Leader in?”
“He should be, we’ve not seen him leaving the mountain…”
Before he finished talking, Qianyue had already entered the gates with the two new disciples.
As soon as they entered the sect, they were surrounded by colorful mists, the light shone brightly, the flowers were abundant, and the pines and cypresses green and sturdy.
During the walk, spiritual birds could be seen flying around and roars from the beasts could be heard from time to time, as if they were in a celestial realm.
“Hmph, this Frostcloud Sect of yours is not too bad, just barely worthy of this phoenix. But these spiritual birds are really lacking. Don’t they know that they should greet me?”
The blue phoenix ranted its dissatisfaction in his divine consciousness, but Jing Yue ignored it.
Qianyue glanced at them surreptitiously. She saw awe and wonder in Liu Tianhao’s face, but Jing Yue was absolutely calm, and she was surprised again.
When they arrived at a short bridge, Qianyue said, “I’ve to report back to Shizun^. The two of you can wait here, don’t simply walk around.”
(TN: 师尊 Shizun = Supreme Master)
As soon as Qianyue left, Liu Tianhao looked around and saw no one else.
He relaxed a little and glimpsed at Jing Yue from the corner of his eyes, “Hey.”
Jing Yue flicked a glance at him but did not respond. Even the blue phoenix perched on his shoulder turned around, showing its furry little butt at him.
Liu Tianhao felt insulted. In the past, everyone treated him respectfully, so he said indignantly, “The fairy was kind enough to bring you in, and you have your nose up in the air already? Do you think your attitude will be favored by any Zhenren? You should thank your lucky stars if you are not sent to the outer gates.”
Seeing Jing Yue’s unrepentant stance, he was furious and threatened, “You think there’s nothing else to worry about once you’ve joined the Frostcloud Sect? Let me tell you, if you’ve no backing, you’ll only be bulled. All the resources given by the sect will be snatched away from you, all the dirty and tiring work will be thrown at you, leaving you with no time to cultivate, and you’ll end up getting expelled from the sect!”
Jing Yue’s expression sank, “How do you know?”
Liu Tianhao thought his threats were effective and he said ostentatiously, “Hah, who doesn’t know that? The serious rivalry between the internal and external gates is no longer a secret. Only those who could survive in the cruel competition are the true disciples of the Frostcloud Sect.”
He wanted to continue, but a young man dressed in green robes approached them from a distance.
That person asked, “Are you Liu-shidi^ and Jing-shidi^?”
(TN: 师弟Shidi = Junior brother)
“Yes, we are.”
“Follow me. The Sect Leader would like to meet you.”
“Sect… Sect Leader?”
When Liu Tianhao heard the words ‘Sect Leader’, he almost buckled in surprise, but excited at the same time. That was the Sect Leader of Frostcloud Sect! Wei Tianli-zhenjun was ranked one of the top ten Amethyst Abode cultivators on the Flying Immortal List! Before today, he was just a legendary character, completely out of reach.
Such a person would like to meet him? Could it be… could it be that he was the person destined to bring great fortune to the Frostcloud Sect?
After that, Liu Tianhao was in a daze all the way until he reached the main hall of Bluecloud Summit, before he realized that Jing Yue came along too.
Liu Tianhao wanted to bow down, but he was prevented by a force. A majestic voice rang, “Let’s examine your spiritual root first.”
Liu Tianhao’s body was frozen stiff and he dared not raise his head.
That voice asked, “Who is Jing Yue?”
Liu Tianhao’s heart was shaken, his mind was in a mess, and he barely heard Jing Yue’s reply. That voice said, “Wait for a moment.”
Who? Me? Or that kid?
He replied reflexively, lost control of his voice due to sheer nervousness and nearly yelled himself hoarse. The loud echoes in the hall added to his shame in waves, and he trembled violently.
The person who called out his name chuckled, “Haha, so energetic. Very well, you may start first.”
“Liu-shidi, please go ahead.”
Liu Tianhao lifted his head blankly. The man in green robes who brought him here handed him a transparent stone in the shape of a gourd.
He knew it was a magic item used by Frostcloud Sect to examine spiritual roots. Although he was already found to possess the water and metal double spiritual roots when he was three, he could not help his nervousness at this time.
Liu Tianhao’s palm was quickly drenched with sweat. He held the stone tightly, afraid of dropping the stone accidentally. Very soon, he felt a warm sensation in his palm.
“That’ll do,” the green-robed man said.
Liu Tianhao opened his hand and found that most of the stone had turned blue with just a tinge of gold at the corner.
He exhaled in relief and looked ahead expectantly.
More than a dozen men and women were seated in the main hall, and at a center was a Daoist in purple robes. Liu Tianhao looked down quickly, fearful to look at them for too long, but he knew without a doubt that the man in purple robes was the Sect Leader of Frostcloud Sect, Wei Tianli.
His future was in the hands of these people!
Liu Tianhao clenched his fists tightly and he heard the green-robed man saying, “Double spiritual root of water and metal, water dominant.”
His head was lowered, so he did not see Wei Tianli nodding with approval and asking, “Is there anyone who’d like to accept him?”
A few Golden Core Zhenren stirred, but one of them said, “Let’s examine the other one first.”
Wei Tianli, “That’s fine.”
The green-robed man put two fingers together, rubbed the gourd-shaped stone lightly and it became transparent again. He approached Jing Yue, “Jing-shidi, it’s your turn.”
Jing Yue took the stone, closed his eyes, mobilized his spiritual energy and injected it into the magic item.
Just like before, after a little while, the green-robed man indicated that it was done. Jing Yue opened his hands slowly, but the stone was still transparent.
The green-robed man gave Jing Yue a strange look. Could this person not possess any spiritual root? It was not possible, since he was already a level 2 Qi Refining.
Could there be a problem with the stone? He said hesitantly, “Jing-shidi, try again…”
Suddenly, he heard a soft cracking sound.
By reflex, the man lowered his head and saw a thin line of crack on the surface of the testing gourd. Before he could react, however, the main hall was flooded in blue light, and he squinted from the radiance.
It seemed as if there were fiery storms and raging waves, mighty and earth-shaking, the white waves almost formed mountain ranges. A ray of lightning struck down from the inky sky, splintered on the angry waves, spray exploded, rain poured, and the force of it was akin to collapsing mountains and cracking grounds.
At the same time, all the celestial beasts in Frostcloud Sect roared and bowed towards Bluecloud Summit.
The sound of the bell was long and ancient, and everyone in the main hall reacted to it.
The Jadecloud Bell had rung again.