Ruyi Merchant was very efficient. Soon, Jing Yue received a message from Jin Baozhu. The other party proposed to cooperate with Golden Pavilion to hold an auction, which could instantly propel the fame of the fetal sculpting talisman. The auction would be held one month from now.
“One month later?” Gu Xia asked. “It will be the bamboo-picking event by then. Don’t we all have to go to the lower South continent?”
Jing Yue was taken aback. He had completely forgotten about it.
The bamboo-picking event was held once every ten years and the major forces would nominate the best Foundation Establishment disciples to participate. This time, Nine Heaven Academy selected a total of 500 people, including Zheng Bai and Gu Xia.
He was about to say that he didn’t have to attend the auction, but when he received another message, Jing Yue laughed.
Both Gu Xia and Zheng Bai looked confused. Jing Yue said, “This Jin Baozhu really thought of everything. Take a look yourself.”
It turned out that the letter stated in view of Jing Yue attending the bamboo-picking event, the auction would be held in Emerald City, where the Green Bamboo Sanctuary was located in lower South region.
Zheng Bai nodded. “Counting the days, we should have just arrived in Emerald City at that time. The bamboo-picking event will be held two days later, so we just have enough time to watch the excitement.”
The few people talked a little bit more about the event and it didn't take long before they separated.
When Jing Yue returned to the dormitory, he ran into Meng Shan’s resentful eyes.
He wanted to walk away in oblivion, but how could Meng Shan let him go?
“How come all of you can attend the bamboo-picking event, but an authentic Green Bamboo Sanctuary disciple like me is not selected?” Meng Shan's tone was sour and bitter, especially thinking that if his sister Meng Wan learned the news, she might deal with him, and he wanted to disappear from the spot.
“If I remained in Green Bamboo Sanctuary, I’m sure to participate. Why was I taken off the list once I came to Nine Heaven Academy…”
Meng Shan felt that he had been wronged.
“If you spent the time on cracking the beast-suppression talisman focusing on your main class instead, you should be able to go with us.”
With that said, Meng Shan was even more discouraged.
He didn’t manage to crack the beast-suppression talisman either, okay?!
Meng Shan hugged his skinny self aggrievedly, while the chubby blue phoenix danced around with excitement. “Jing-jing, this is a good opportunity for you to shine. You must blind everyone’s eyes and make Ji-ji proud of you.”
Jing Yue patted its head. “Aren’t you proud of me now?”
Blue phoenix said immediately, “Jing-jing is always Ji-ji’s pride!”
In this way, after ten days, the disciples of Nine Heaven Academy attending the bamboo-picking event were ready to set off. After all, Bliss City was still more than ten days away from Emerald City. Of course, that was traveling by sky vessel.
The people leading the team were Lin-zhenjun, an elder of the academy, and Wu Dao-zhenren from Green Bamboo Sanctuary. They were leading the disciples on board the sky vessel.
As soon as Jing Yue boarded, he saw an acquaintance. He said, “Qin-zhenjun, why are you here too?”
Shouldn’t the mountain leader remain in the academy?
Qin Yanzhi, “Urgent summons from Laozu.”
Jing Yue recalled that Sword Inscription Sect was located in upper South region, also south of Central region. No wonder he would travel together with them.
Then, he asked curiously, “Could it be Taoxian-laozu?”
There was also a Tribulation Passage patriarch in Sword Inscription Sect, none other than Taoxian. He was younger than Yi Ye. Before Jing Yue was struck by lightning in his previous life, he was not born yet.
Qin Yanzhi, “Mm.”
Was there an important matter for the urgent summons?
While pondering, Jing Yue heard Qin Yanzhi saying, “The Old Master told me to tell you that the fetal sculpting talisman is very effective. Thank you.”
Jing Yue was taken aback, only to realize he was talking about Old Master Qin, so he smiled and said, “You're welcome. You paid for it after all, so what is there to thank?”
Once the fetal sculpting talisman was successful, he sent one to Qin Yanzhi immediately. Towards his benefactor, of course he must be concerned about the other party’s anxiety. Although Qin Yanzhi didn’t display his emotions openly, he must wish Qin Zhanpeng well in his heart. Otherwise, he would not catch the Tranquil Fox despite little hope.
However, he knew Qin Yanzhi wouldn't take it for free, so he didn't suggest it.
Qin Yanzhi, “You can't slack off these few days. Practice the seven styles of swordsmanship well.”
Jing Yue, “…”
A simple sentence made Jing Yue recall the fear of being watched by Qin Yanzhi's eyes all the time.
Qin Yanzhi, “Diligence can make up for one's weakness.”
Jing Yue, “…”
Lower South Continent, Emerald City.
In the past few days, the city had been very lively. Not to mention the upcoming bamboo-picking event, just the fact that Golden Pavilion would jointly hold an auction with Ruyi Merchant was enough to steer the conversation.
“Have you heard? There is a premium-grade spirit weapon in this auction.”
“How long ago have you heard this? I heard that there is a brand new talisman at the auction, called the fetal sculpting talisman, which can purify the spiritual root!”
“Tsk, do you really believe it? It's nothing more than a gimmick released by Ruyi Merchant.”
“Of course I don’t believe it, but many people want to check it out. It’s hard to get an invitation card for this auction. I heard that it has reached a sky-high price.”
“Golden Pavilion will not tolerate any fake auction items. If there is no fetal sculpting talisman at that time, or if they found out the function is not to purify the spiritual roots, I want to see how Ruyi Merchant is going to settle it!”
At this time, a group of people passed by them, all well-dressed and well-groomed, looking very energetic.
After these people left, the few who chatted at first whispered, “Are they here to participate in the bamboo-picking event? Just look at the pompadour. I wonder where they came from.”
“It’s people from Nine Heaven Academy. I saw a few people with tokens.”
“No wonder. Nine Heaven Academy is full of talents. How I envy them!”
Jing Yue admired the scenery of Emerald City and felt that it was worthy of the name because the whole city was built in the forest.
At first glance, there were towering giant trees everywhere, even blocking out the sun, and the lighting was all dependent on the Mini Star Lamps hanging on the luxuriant branches and leaves. It was called Mini Star Lamps, which in fact was just the seed from the Lantern Tree that emitted a faint light, but it looked like the twinkling stars in the sky.
All the houses in Emerald City were built on giant trees, haphazardly arranged in different heights and sizes, and they were all connected by wooden bridges.
A shallow and clear current flowed over the roots of the trees, and palm-sized colorful fish could be seen swimming everywhere in the water, as well as some exotic plants.
All these seemed very strange to Jing Yue. At least in the Bipolar World of his previous life, he had never seen such a scene.
When they came to the center of Emerald City, they saw the boundary stone of Green Bamboo Sanctuary in front of a huge tree with green vines hanging around it.
Wu Dao-zhenren opened the barrier with the sect token. As soon as they entered it, the green waters of a lake greeted them.
Scattered bamboo rafts docked by the lake and on the other side was the ancient and elegant Green Bamboo Sanctuary.
At this time, a woman in a green dress with bamboo leaves embroidered on the cuffs approached. “I’m Ding Lingdang, a disciple of Green Bamboo Sanctuary. Are all of you from Nine Heaven Academy?”
Wu Dao-zhenren stepped out from behind Lin-zhenjun. “Lil Lingdang, don’t bother. I’ll take them across the lake.”
Ding Lingdang smiled gently. “So it’s Wu Dao-zhenren. Thank you very much then.”
With a wave of Wu Dao-zhenren’s sleeve, a huge gourd floated on the lake. When all the students got on the gourd, he said, “The bamboo-picking event will be held the day after tomorrow. Tonight, Green Bamboo Sanctuary will organize a banquet. Those who wish to may attend. If not, you may rest in the guest house.”
Jing Yue had heard about it. It had become a tradition to have a banquet for the first two nights of the bamboo-picking event. Although it was called a banquet, it was in fact an opportunity for the practitioners to get acquainted with their opponents and get to meet friends. All students were tacitly aware of this point.
Into the night.
The surface of the lake rippled from the damp wind, the bamboo of Green Bamboo Sanctuary swayed, the forest bright with lights, and laughter could be heard from time to time.
In the courtyard, the fragrance of wine lingered. Many cultivators acted like mortals at this moment, chattering casually and indulgently.
In the corner, a plainly dressed young man was carrying a hip flask, leaning against a bamboo pole, and staring straight at a lively corner with frenzy in his eyes.
When someone he knew noticed it, he said with a half-smile, “Why, Fan-daoyou also wants to join in the fun? Those are the disciples of major sects. Towards… rogue cultivators like us, they won’t look up to us.”
The young man surnamed Fan withdrew his gaze, took a sip of wine blankly, and ignored the other party. Inwardly, he cursed the others for living a lifetime as rogue cultivators. Today was a rare opportunity. If he could make friends with a disciple from a major sect, or obtain the favor of a Zhenren, perhaps he could be included in the inner walls too.
In terms of talent, he was not inferior!
Just as he thought about it, his eyes lit up.
He saw a very beautiful young boy coming through the corridor. Although the clothes of the other party were not gorgeous, they were very elegant. More importantly, many people paid respects wherever the young man walked, and even a Golden Core zhenren hurriedly greeted him and bowed in salute.
“Who is that Golden Core zhenren paying respects to?” The young man surnamed Fan changed his previous indifference, swallowed his pride, and asked the cultivator beside him.
The latter smiled. “Fan-daoyou’s eyes must be playing tricks. That person is Wu Chen-zhenren from Frostcloud Sect. Who do you think can let Wu Chen-zhenren perform a disciple’s greeting rites?”
The eyes of the young man surnamed Fan blazed as he stared at the young man, a deeply buried jealousy amid the envy, but he didn’t notice the sneer shown by the cultivator next to him.
Jing Yue and Wu Chen-zhenren talked about the current situation of the sect, and he learned that hundreds of disciples from Frostcloud Sect were here for this event, but before long, Wu Chen-zhenren was called away.
He simply found a corner and stayed there, sipped the specialty spirit wine brewed by Green Bamboo Sanctuary, admired the scenery of the bamboo forest, and occasionally fed blue phoenix a few bites of tidbits.
It was very pleasant and he was enjoying himself, but someone interrupted his peace.
“Fellow Daoist, why are you all alone here?”
Jing Yue turned his head and saw a man in grey clothes smiling at him. His appearance was quite proper but his eyes flickered and his smile deliberate.
But Jing Yue still responded in a friendly manner. “I'm feeding my chicken.”
Blue phoenix, which was pecking at the snacks, paused briefly before it continued pecking as if it didn’t hear the words.
The gray-clothed man said, “I’m Fan Ren, a rogue cultivator from lower South continent. May I know your name?”
Jing Yue was amused. Fan Ren? Annoying person? Mortal? Either way, it seemed unlucky for the cultivator.
(TN: Fan Ren= 樊仁 can sound like 烦人= annoying person, 凡人 = mortal)
“My surname is Jing, a student of Nine Heaven Academy.”
Fan Ren was taken aback. Why didn’t Jing-laozu introduce himself as a member of Frostcloud Sect? But to think of it, the other party was indeed studying at Nine Heaven Academy, so he wasn’t lying to him. Besides, his attitude was friendly without the pretentiousness of a patriarch. He was rather flattered and cautiously said, “Can I sit down?”
Fan Ren, “Is it the first time for Jing-daoyou to attend the bamboo-picking event? I’ve never seen you before.”
Jing Yue, “That’s right.”
Fan Ren cleared his throat and explained to Jing Yue the noteworthy people in this event. “Jie Chen from Three Realm Temple broke through to the upper-level of Foundation Establishment stage seven years ago. He was the frontrunner in the last bamboo-picking event so his chances are greater this time. Wei Zhentu of Villa of Scattered Stars is young but already proficient in many formations. There is also Luo Binnan of Sword Inscription Sect, rumored to be the strongest talent in swordsmanship after Qin-zhenjun.”
Jing Yue listened very carefully. He also knew a little about these people. They were all well-known figures on the Flying Immortal List but his understanding of them was limited, so he nodded repeatedly. “Fan-daoyou is very well informed indeed.”
Fan Ren waved his hand humbly. “No way, rogue cultivators like me are no better than a sect disciple. I’ve to rely on myself for everything, and such information is quite important for us to inquire more.”
“Oh, by the way, you should know Meng Wan, right? She is also from the Villa of Scattered Stars, now studying at Nine Heaven Academy. She’s very capable. There are also Wu Miaozi from Green Bamboo Sanctuary and Su Bingqing from Palace of Nine Moons…”
Fan Ren was talking happily when suddenly, a man appeared from out of nowhere and bowed to Jing Yue stiffly. “Jing-laozu, I heard that Qin-zhenjun valued you very much and taught you the art of swordsmanship himself. I’d like to spar with you. Please don’t refuse me.”
Jing Yue was startled. Although he heard Zheng Bai saying that there would always be cultivators sparring at the banquet, the reason given by this person sounded a bit weird.
“Excuse me, you are…”
“Sword Inscription Sect, Lu Ren.”
Jing Yue “…”
There was already an annoying person next to him, and now came a passerby… He coughed lightly. “So it’s Lu-daoyou.”
(TN: Lu Ren 陆仁 can sound like 路人 = passerby)
Lu Ren, “Qin-zhenjun never accepts disciples and rarely taught others. Even within Sword Inscription Sect, few disciples had been instructed by him. Jing-laozu is indeed very blessed to have received Qin-zhenjun’s careful guidance. Lu Ren wants to learn something and see where our gap is.”
Blue phoenix, “So sour! I can smell the scent of competing for favor…”
Jing Yue, “…”
It turned out to be envy, jealousy, and hatred? But there were so many students taught by Qin Yanzhi in the academy, so why did this person single him out? Not to mention anything about being valued, if staring at someone’s back could be counted as being valued…
Lu Ren, “Before this, I’ve had the opportunity to learn from several lucky fellow Daoists, including my fellow sect disciples, but…” The contempt in his eyes flashed for a second. Although he didn’t point out the result, his expression said everything. “You are the only one left, Jing-laozu.”
Blue phoenix said angrily, “The attitude of this brain-dead fan is so annoying. How dare he speak to Jing-jing like this. It seems that chasing after his idol has made him lose his mind. Jing-jing, slap him in the face!”
Jing Yue, “Don‘t you see he’s already upper-level of the Foundation Establishment stage? Besides, he’s also a disciple of Sword Inscription Sect. I don’t have the slightest advantage over him in swordsmanship.”
Blue phoenix immediately said nervously, “Then, Jing-jing, refuse him quickly! Don’t give him the chance to slap your face in return!”
Jing Yue was already very accustomed to the indecisive blue phoenix. He calmly ignored it and said, “Since practicing swordsmanship with Qin-zhenjun for over a year, I haven’t learned a single move…”
Lu Ren angrily interrupted him, “Impossible! Qin-zhenjun doesn’t teach casually, but he is certain to do his best as long as he teaches. Could it be that Laozu is finding an excuse not to spar with me?”
Jing Yue, “My friend, why are you so impatient? What I meant to say is that I only know the basic swordsmanship of Frostcloud Sect. If you want to compete, I can only use the basic swordplay with you.”
Lu Ren snorted coldly. “I won’t take advantage of you. In that case, I’ll also use the basic swordplay of Sword Inscription Sect to spar with you.”
The exchange between the two inevitably attracted some onlookers. Some people muttered, “Not taking any advantage? An upper-level Foundation Establishment stage is picking a fight with a lower-level.”
“What’s wrong with being a lower-level? That’s the patriarch of a major sect. For Lu-daoyou to issue a challenge to Jing-laozu, I think his courage is commendable.”
“Lu Ren is so disrespectful. Isn’t he afraid that Frostcloud Sect will pursue this matter?”
“It’s just a spar. Lu Ren didn’t do anything excessive. Frostcloud Sect can’t be that narrow-minded.”
“Even Wu Chen-zhenren didn’t say anything, so what are you so worried about?”
The discussions from the crowd naturally spread to Lu Ren's ears, and he said, “I will suppress my cultivation level and only compete in swordplay with Jing-laozu!”
Jing Yue, “Up to you.”
Since the match required a spacious space, the two left one after the other, and the onlookers followed in a wave, leaving only one person standing on the spot in a daze.
Fan Ren: ???
Did anyone remember him? Wait a minute! He hadn’t finished his routine yet!