“What? Did you catch the murderer?” An Wenxing's mind was confused and had forgotten who he was questioning.
The elder of the Penal Court understood his emotions and wasn’t angry. “We didn’t see him.”
Qin Yanzhi said coldly, “Lead the way!”
Everyone followed the elder of the Penal Court to the foot of a mountain, which was named Cockscomb Mountain because it looked exactly like one.
They walked halfway up the mountain and found a cave.
The elder of the Penal Court pointed to the entrance of the cave. “This is it.”
The few people entered. The cave was pitch black and the humid air had a sticky stench, which seemed to herald the unknown.
Cultivators of Foundation Establishment and above could see in the dark. Jing Yue increased his vigilance and walked at the end of the group.
The cave was rugged with twists and turns. The rock walls were covered with moss and there was slippery mud under the feet. It was silent except for the sound of water droplets hitting the rocks and everyone's breathing.
After about a quarter of an hour, the cave suddenly opened up. At a glance, Jing Yue saw a rotting corpse lying on the ground, exuding foul smells.
A mortal? Jing Yue reacted subconsciously.
It was important to know that the corpse of a cultivator was protected by spiritual energy and impossible to rot so quickly.
But An Wenxing yelled, “It's Pang Can, it's him! I recognize him!”
Jing Yue admired An Wenxing a little. He could still recognize it at a glance. He looked at the corpse carefully and could indeed vaguely recognize Pang Can’s face.
“But how could he rot so fast?”
Qin Yanzhi, “His spiritual root has been removed.”
Jing Yue was taken aback for a moment before a chill shot up from his spine.
The pain from having the spiritual root removed was no different from the pain from soul-searching, ten thousand times more terrifying than death.
He never knew of this practice in his previous life, and he had only heard of this kind of witchcraft in this life. At that time, he commended the progress of the younger generation to come up with such a cruel cultivation method, but it was not until today that he saw this for the first time.
“His spiritual root… removed?” The elder of the Penal Court also stared in surprise, his words almost incomprehensible.
As for Zheng Bai, who had extremely poor psychological quality, ran to the corner to throw up, whether out of fear or disgust.
Qin Yanzhi, “It’s Old Man Tianxiang.”
His originally flat voice was now even lower, unconsciously producing chills in others.
“Old Man Tianxiang?” An Wenxing exploded all of a sudden. “Wasn’t he besieged and killed by the Lurking Ghost Sect a hundred years ago?”
Jing Yue had also heard about the old man Tianxiang's name. He was the only person who practiced this kind of sorcery. He asked a few more questions out of curiosity at the time.
It was said that the old man Tianxiang extracted the spiritual roots of others to nurture himself. For thousands of years, he used this method to reshape his essence, transforming his original three-element spiritual root into a single water-elemental spiritual root. If not for the great hidden danger of this cultivation technique that could potentially cause the cultivator’s spiritual dais to become unstable and eventually collapse, countless people would go crazy over it.
In order to solidify his spiritual dais, old man Tianxiang’s hands were stained with the blood of both the righteous and demonic cultivators. Later, the Lurking Ghost Sect found his lair and executed him on the spot.
Qin Yanzhi, “As far as I know, the Lurking Ghost Sect didn’t kill him, just seriously injured and subdued him, trying to force him to reveal this sorcery method for reference.”
Penal Court elder, “Hmph, as expected of the demonic sect, doing this kind of unreasonable thing!
Have they forgotten how many of their disciples died at the hands of the old man Tianxiang?”
Qin Yanzhi, “However, old man Tianxiang managed to escape. The Lurking Ghost Sect has been looking for him all these years, but it’s just in vain.
An Wenxing angrily said, “Since Lurking Ghost Sect wants to know the technique, why not search his soul and let the villain’s soul dissipate?”
Penal Court elder explained, “Old man Tianxiang’s cultivation base is high. It’s not easy to search his soul and the risk is too great.” He turned to Qin Yanzhi. “Could it be that the demon has been hiding in the Central region?”
Qin Yanzhi, “Not sure, but for the time being, he must still be in Central region.”
Jing Yue thought about it for a while and said, “It seems that the problem of his unstable spiritual dais has not been solved and the situation is very bad, forcing him to make a move against the students at the risk of exposure. If I remember correctly, Pang Can has a water and wood double spiritual root.”
Penal Court elder, “If what you said is true, he’d definitely take action soon, and the chosen prey must also be cultivators with good spiritual roots. Most of these people belong to the major forces. I’ll immediately send a message to all the major sects to increase vigilance and find the old man Tianxiang as soon as possible.”
Suddenly, a special thought crossed Jing Yue’s mind. He vaguely felt that old man Tianxiang was involved in a chance encounter that belonged to him.
Chance encounters were hard to come by a cultivator’s path. If he retreated, heaven would punish him.
Jing Yue’s eyes darted around and said, “It’s better to take initiative than be passive. How about I act as bait?”
The elder of the Penal Court was taken aback for a moment and subconsciously refused, “No way. Old man Tianxiang is already a Heavenly Grotto cultivator. This is too dangerous!”
Jing Yue was the patriarch of Frostcloud Sect. If something happened to him, they couldn’t afford the consequences.
Zheng Bai also hurriedly persuaded, “Laozu mustn’t take the risk!”
An Wenxing said, “I think it’s a good plan. I remember that the old man Tianxiang likes to find Foundation Establishment cultivators, and Jing-tongxue has a single water element spiritual root. If he acts as bait, he can definitely attract the attention of old man Tianxiang for sure.”
Zheng Bai, “Insolence!”
Jing Yue, “Don’t worry. Although this operation is dangerous, I have something to protect myself with and I can take advanced precautions. A blow from a Heavenly Grotto cultivator can’t hurt me.”
He looked upright and awe-inspiring. “This evildoer is greatly condemned by everyone. As the Laozu of Frostcloud Sect, I must not let him get away with it, let alone fall into the hands of the demonic sect!”
While several of them argued, Qin Yanzhi said, “You may.”
The elder of the Penal Court looked at Qin Yanzhi in a puzzled manner, but he did not explain. Instead, he stared at Jing Yue seriously and said, “I will do my best to protect you and prevent you from getting hurt at all.”
Pan Yang Secret Realm.
Jiang Xue used his sword and stabbed the corpse of the ferocious beast several times and confirmed that the giant rock python was completely dead before he kept the sword into its sheath.
At this moment, he was all dirty, the blood of the beast splattered over his face. He wiped it impatiently, fiddled with his loose hair, and tied it again.
A smug smile appeared on Jiang Xue's face. The fierce beast he met this time was very powerful and almost made him suffer a big loss, but he still successfully completed the mission given by the sect. When he returned to Lingfeng Clan, he would get a bottle of Jasper Dew that could help in his breakthrough to the Foundation Establishment stage in the future.
After experiencing a great battle, Jiang Xue was drained and exhausted, and decided to return directly to his clan.
As he was about to cast a spell to clean up, Jiang Xue suddenly closed his eyes and fell straight to the ground.
After he passed out for quite a while, it was already evening when Jiang Xue came out of the secret realm.
He hurried back to Peach Blossom Town at the mountain foot of Lingfeng Clan. The moon peeked out from the horizon, the stars spread in the night sky, the lights in the town were shining, and the enticing aroma of food permeated everywhere.
Although Jiang Xue practiced inedia, at this moment, he was dizzy and fatigued, so he simply walked into a restaurant, ready to eat something like spiritual greens or beasts to replenish his stamina.
As soon as he took a seat, someone said, “Jiang-shixiong, what a coincidence!”
Jiang Xue turned around and saw several fellow clan disciples. He smiled and said, “Since we met, why don’t you join me.”
“It’s okay, we just finished.” The person curiously asked, “Hasn’t Jiang-shixiong practiced inedia for a long while now?”
Another person said, “Jiang-shixiong should have gone to Pan Yang Secret Realm today. Are you here for a rest now?”
Jiang Xue nodded reservedly.
“It seems that Jiang-shixiong's trip went well, so let's congratulate him first.”
Jiang Xue, “You’re too kind.”
After the brief chat, several people came out of the restaurant one after another, still unable to stop the discussion along the way.
“Jiang-shixiong is really amazing. He has built his foundation in less than forty years and no weaker than the geniuses of Nine Heaven Academy.”
“That’s right. If he didn’t reach the Foundation Establishment stage a few days late and missed the academy’s assessment, he’d be studying in Nine Heaven Academy at this time.”
“The fierce beasts in Pan Yang Secret Realm are not easy to deal with. I heard that ordinary disciples that go there for training must form at least a team of two to hunt down the beasts, but Jiang-shixiong always goes alone.”
“Alas, he’s a single water element spiritual root. With such an outstanding talent, we can only envy him from afar.”
The few people chatted with high spirits. No one noticed as a cold glance swept over them.
In the restaurant, the waiter already served the food.
Jiang Xue picked up a piece of spiritual meat. As soon as he was about to eat it, he saw a yellow-robed Daoist standing next to the table.
The Daoist looked ordinary but his nose was exceptionally high and there was a bulge on the bridge of the nose. Holding a bottle of wine in his hand, he asked, “Little friend, can I sit here?”
Jiang Xue looked around. There were clearly plenty of empty seats but he felt that the Daoist in yellow robe had a high level of cultivation. Although he had doubts in his heart, he dared not object, and only said, “Please go ahead.”
The yellow-robed Daoist sat down and stared fixedly at Jiang Xue. Jiang Xue felt uncomfortable under his scrutiny, bit the bullet, and asked, “Is there anything wrong?”
The yellow-robed Daoist grinned widely, revealing a mouthful of black teeth, which looked extraordinarily scary. “In my opinion, the little friend is born with unusual bones and is a talent graced by the heavens. Unfortunately, your fate is trapped by a hidden net.”
Jiang Xue was taken aback. Although he was a cultivator, he was devoted to cultivating the arts and had little exposure to fortune-telling and divination. When he heard the Daoist’s words, he knew it wasn’t auspicious. He was unhappy but still respectful, “Senior, please give me some advice.”
The Daoist half-closed his eyes, with an inscrutable smile at the corner of his mouth, and said slowly, “Your luck is weak, dangerous, frightening, and fierce. Misfortune falls from the sky even when indoors. You need to be wary of bad guys as soon as possible, otherwise, there’s no way to escape and inevitably lead to disaster.”
After listening, Jiang Xue's heartstrings relaxed. He turned out to be a liar full of nonsense? After he returned to the clan, where would he meet bad guys? But he still smiled and said, “Thank you.”
The old man in yellow robe, “The little friend doesn’t believe me?”
Jiang Xue, “It’s not that, I…”
He was halfway through speaking when suddenly, his eyes straightened and his expression froze.
The Daoist in yellow robe smiled strangely when he saw it, slowly got up, hiding his fingers in his wide sleeves, and making a light beckoning action. Jiang Xue then stood up and walked out with him.
Seeing Jiang Xue so ‘obedient’, the Daoist was even more satisfied. If it weren’t for Pan Yang secret realm that only Foundation Establishment cultivators could enter, why would he wait for Jiang Xue for seven days? Now, he finally got the man.
The yellow-robed Daoist was none other than Old Man Tianxing.
He just killed a student of Nine Heaven Academy a few days ago, so how would he dare to stay? On that very day, he fled all the way west and came to this Peach Blossom Town.
To think that a Heavenly Grotto cultivator like him, but hiding like a mouse all day, bitter and miserable, old man Tianxiang couldn't help but pamper himself.
Everyone knew that his technique was so amazing that he could transform three spiritual roots to today's single spiritual root, but who knew that if he was given another chance, he would never practice this method!
With the threat of his spiritual dais collapsing at any time, and in the blink of an eye, rendering him a mortal, that fear almost tortured him into becoming a madman!
Back then, when he obtained this set of techniques by chance, he thought he was the darling of the heavens, but who knew it would bring him endless troubles.
To stabilize the spiritual dais, he could only attack other cultivators, causing the righteous sects to go after him, and was almost killed by the Lurking Ghost Sect.
After finally escaping, he dared not remain in West Shu region any longer. After wandering around all these years and living in fear, he only dared to pick some disciples with ordinary talents from the little clans to start. But as his cultivation level improved, the spiritual dais became more and more unstable, and he almost went into Qi deviation a few days ago!
He happened to be in Bliss City at that time. Because of the sudden incident, he didn't even have time to prepare, so he had no choice but to take the risk and attack the students of Nine Heaven Academy. Although he tried to remove the traces, there were still hidden dangers.
Therefore, even if his spiritual dais had not been completely stabilized after absorbing Pang Can's spiritual root, he could only bear with it and escape first.
Fortunately, heaven was on his side. In Peach Blossom Town, he found out about Jiang Xue. This person was the most talented disciple of the Lingfeng Clan and also a single water spiritual root. With Jiang Xue's help, his spiritual dais would surely be stable for several years.
However, the Lingfeng faction was not weak, and there was also a powerful Return to Void stage on guard, so he had to end this quickly.
Without further ado, old man Tianxiang led Jiang Xue into the dark alley, quickly rolled him into his sleeves, and left the city like this.
Along the way, he set up illusory arrays, and it was not until two hours later that he reached his hiding place—a ruined temple.
The Buddha statue in the temple fell sideways on the ground, the paint peeled off. Old man Tianxiang chanted a mantra and the abdomen of the statue suddenly cracked, revealing a dark hole.
There were already a few decomposed bodies in the cave, all of those he had captured in the past few days. Despite the foul smell, old man Tianxiang seemed unfazed. He kicked the corpse aside at random, flicked his sleeves, and tossed Jiang Xue out.
Old man Tianxiang glanced at the groggy young man on the ground. The other party was hit by the Soul Attracting Curse and it would take a day and night to wake up, so he was not worried that Jiang Xue would run away.
He started arranging formations around Jiang Xue. When he was ready, he helped him up and faced him against the wall.
He bowed to Jiang Xue and said, “I’m sorry for doing this to you. If I gain the Dao in the future, I’ll surely lead your soul into my door.”
After that, he lifted his robe and sat down cross-legged. His fingers changed frequently, trying to extricate Jiang Xue's spiritual root.
As the technique was performed, the surrounding wind surged, and Old man Tianxiang was fully focused on chanting the curse. Suddenly, he felt a great crisis boring down on him!
Old man Tianxiang opened his eyes suddenly but found that Jiang Xue on the other side had woken up at some point. At this time, his eyes were staring at him, like looking at a dead person.
His heart lurched heavily. Before he could react, he saw Jiang Xue's eyebrows lit up with silver light, blazing suddenly, almost burning his eyes!
In a daze, he saw white snowflakes, rain and thunder, and saw a delicate seed bursting out, blooming in the spring breeze, and withering in the autumn leaves…
Everything followed the law of nature.
And he, under this fierce sword aura that contained the law of nature, felt as if he fell headlong into the depths of Avici!
Old man Tianxiang could not avoid the attack and suffered the sword strike.
The yellow robe on his body puffed up. It was like a protective treasure trying to resist the erosion of sword energy.
Suddenly, a sound of ripping cloth was heard, and the yellow robe had been torn to pieces by the sword qi.
Old man Tianxiang staggered around naked for a few steps, blood spurting wildly from his mouth. Even the Camouflage Pill he had deliberately taken lost its effect, revealing his original appearance.
But he still escaped a catastrophe—old man Tianxiang sacrificed his most precious magic weapon in exchange for his life.
His near-death escape caused old man Tianxiang's spiritual dais to quake even more. Fury enveloped his heart, hatred for the insect he caught in his hand that dared to bite him back. In his resentment, he directly grabbed Jiang Xue!
The latter activated a talisman, moved a step to the right, and escaped ten feet away in the blink of an eye.
Old man Tianxiang grabbed at thin air and shouted vehemently, “You are looking for death!”
As soon as he finished speaking, a stronger sword aura struck from behind him, and the old man Tianxiang immediately used his escape technique. The next moment, he appeared in the forest outside the temple.
Amid a loud noise, the ruined temple collapsed, and among the shattered tiles and dust, a young Daoist stood with a sword.
When the old man Tianxiang saw him clearly, he felt fear and hatred all at once, and finally squeezed out three words between his teeth, “Qin! Yan! Zhi!”