Jing Yue opened his eyes. Dong Sheng sword snuggled up against him obediently, while Luo Binnan’s face maintained an expression of doubting life.
Jing Yue smiled and said, “Thank you for giving way, Luo-daoyou. Qin-zhenjun taught me well.”
As he stepped into the teleportation array, the rankings changed again.
“Luo Binnan has failed!”
“Jing-laozu has advanced another spot!”
“It happened at the same time again. Did they also meet and Luo Binnan lost?”
“Impossible. Their levels are so far apart. No matter what they compete in, that can’t be the case.”
“So what? Jing-laozu took down Wei Zhentu a few days ago.”
“That's just a guess. It's probably just a coincidence! It’s okay if it happens occasionally, but if he can defeat the opponent every time, who can be such a freak?”
“Qin-zhenjun, of course.”
Everyone pondered. If Jing Yue really did as they imagined, it was indeed very similar to Qin Yanzhi. Once he advanced into the next stage, he would inevitably be the first in that ranking.
Wu Dao-zhenren, who had appeared at some point, was filled with gratification. Beside him, Wu Chen-zhenren coughed heavily. Jing-laozu was the patriarch of Frostcloud Sect, so what was up with the glorified expression on Wu Dao’s face?
Another person said, “Anyway, in the bamboo-picking event this time, only Jing-laozu remains undefeated.”
As soon as the words were spoken, the crowd was shrouded in silence again, except for a blue chicken on the top of the tree, singing and chirping, producing noise pollution.
After awakening the Dong Sheng sword, Jing Yue went through more than ten not-so-difficult tests. When he entered a bright field filled with birds and flowers from a dark illusory array, he knew that this was the last.
Because he had gone through 99 formations. Barring any accidents, the 100th formation would enter the core of the heavenly bamboo. Once he passed this test, he would be able to pick the bamboo core and obtain the title of Bamboo Picker.
Jing Yue looked down at the silk ribbon on his wrist but there were no hints on it. He was still puzzled about it when he felt a strong vitality descending quietly, and at the same time, an old man with emerald beard and hair slowly appeared in the illusory array.
Without waiting for Jing Yue to ask, the other party took the initiative and said, “I’m Old Man Tianzhu, the human form of this heavenly bamboo.”
Jing Yue: ???
He had never heard that the heavenly bamboo had taken a human form. No one ever met him before!
Old man Tianzhu smiled kindly. “The little friend must have a lot of doubts in his heart. The predecessors didn’t know my existence because I have never appeared. This time, I want to ask the little friend for help.”
It turned out that a few hundred years after the Yao Catalyst, a Daoist accidentally obtained a piece of spiritual bamboo branch and brought it back to lower South region and planted it.
After more than 2,000 years, the thin branches from back then had grown into a towering giant bamboo, and the descendants of the Daoist had established a small school called Green Bamboo Sanctuary with the giant bamboo as the center.
As Green Bamboo Sanctuary became more and more prosperous, the heavenly bamboo was constantly affected by the vitality of the practitioners. About a thousand years ago, the spiritual consciousness awakened and it was able to take on a human form. From that moment on, the giant bamboo had obtained spirituality and was named Tianzhu by the disciples of Green Bamboo Sanctuary.
(TN: Tianzhu 天竹 = lit. sky/heaven bamboo)
The so-called ‘one world in one leaf’ was an illusion in one of the Ten Universal Laws, and the spiritual sense of Old Man Tianzhu was the core to maintaining the operation of this little universe.
Old man Tianzhu, “If I stay here forever, it will be difficult to make progress in my cultivation. One day, my spiritual sense will die out and the Tianzhu formation will no longer exist.”
“But the heavenly bamboo is my main body. If I leave, Green Bamboo Sanctuary will definitely suffer a heavy loss, and I will owe a huge causal debt. After all, they gave me life.”
Jing Yue was stunned. He was pretty sure even the people of Green Bamboo Sanctuary didn’t know the inside story. He asked, “What can I do?”
Old man Tianzhu, “I hope the little friend can help me find the mother bamboo. Back then, I was just a branch from the mother bamboo. If a piece of bamboo stem from the mother bamboo is used to make a sharp weapon, my spiritual consciousness can be divided into two without harming my body. Half of it can stay in the heavenly bamboo to maintain the operation of the big formation, while the other half will explore the world to experience tempering and cultivate the path to ascension.”
Jing Yue almost choked. “The seven worlds are so vast, how can I find your mother bamboo? Not to mention that 8,000 years have passed, the mother bamboo is most likely gone by now.”
Old man Tianzhu sighed, “Do you think I don’t know this? It's just that as long as there is a silver lining, I want to take a gamble. Otherwise, it’s no different than sitting around and waiting to die.”
He moved his fingers slightly and a dry bamboo branch appeared between his fingers. “I vaguely remember that the mother bamboo grew in a place called Greencliff in upper North region. Greencliff is a small hill with a Daoist temple. The mother bamboo is planted right in front of the temple. Once this dead branch senses the breath of the mother bamboo, it can germinate again.”
Jing Yue took it blankly and said after a while, “Why did you choose me?”
All the past bamboo-picking events were never short of talents, and there were even geniuses such as Qin Yanzhi, but the old man Tianzhu had never looked for them.
A smile flashed across the wise eyes of the old man Tianzhu. “The Heavenly Bamboo has the ability to connect with the Ten Universal Laws, so of course it is unusual. I can sense that you carry very strong fortune with you, and I’ve also just seen your tenacity and dexterity, so I chose to appear in front of you.”
Jing Yue "..." You are so straightforward and so green, of course I can't bear to refuse.
He said, “I can only promise you that I’ll do my best.”
Old man Tianzhu, “I’m grateful for it. Little friend, don’t worry, I won’t make you work in vain. This is a gift for you.”
Suddenly, a verdant and transparent jade appeared in the air, in the shape of a bamboo leaf.
Old man Tianzhu, “This jade is sealed with the vitality of the heaven and the earth when my spiritual consciousness was awakened. For a cultivator Amethyst Abode and below, no matter how severe the injury, it can be cured. As long as the wounded is still breathing, even if the spiritual dais is completely destroyed, they can recover.”
Jing Yue couldn't help being moved. This was almost the same as gaining an extra life. If the jade fell into the outside world, what waves would it cause?
He spread his palm. The jade slowly fell and Jing Yue grasped it tightly.
“Thank you very much.”
Old man Tianzhu smiled. “You’re welcome. Go and pick the bamboo core now. Good luck.”
The old man disappeared and an altar appeared where he was standing with a bamboo branch stuck on it. The core was found within the leaves of the bamboo branch.
Jing Yue glanced at the jade in his hand again and put it in the Qiankun bag carefully.
He took a deep breath, stepped forward, and carefully removed the green bamboo core.
Immediately, the altar disappeared, and the surrounding scenery also faded away gradually, leaving only nothingness between heaven and earth…
On the yellow sand of the desert, Luo Binnan had just defeated another contender. Suddenly, everything around him gradually became transparent. He was taken aback, shook his head, and smiled bitterly, “This time, I failed again.”
In the gloomy valley, Wei Zhentu was about to leave. He paused, looked at the teleportation array that was slowly looming, and whispered, “Is it him?”
Su Bingqing had passed the test of embroidery and went through another twenty or so formations. The ribbon on her wrist suddenly fell off and finally melted into the vast white fog. She was angry and helpless, and said to herself, “I’m afraid my ranking this time is lower than the last. Why am I so unlucky!”
In front of the ranking list outside, it was very crowded at this time, but the atmosphere was quiet and awkward.
Wu Chen-zhenren couldn't help making a swallowing motion. He felt extremely nervous. Even Wu Dao-zhenren next to him held his breath, not to mention other onlookers.
Everyone was waiting for the result, waiting for a miracle to happen.
Yes, they all knew that Jing Yue had entered the last test. If he passed it smoothly, Jing Yue would become the only contestant with zero failures since the inception of the bamboo-picking event. Regardless of whether people knew him or supported him, they hoped he could brace himself and reach the level that no one had ever achieved before.
Suddenly, they felt a breath of vitality. At the same time, the number 100 appeared next to the first name on the ranking list. Before people could recover from their shock, that number had turned into the shape of a bamboo leaf.
The scene was silent, including a small blue chicken.
It wasn't until ten breaths had passed that the sound of gasps was heard one after another, and people realized that a new bamboo picker had been born!
Jing Yue, his name was no stranger to the world of cultivation, but from now on, the meaning of this name was not just the new patriarch of Frostcloud Sect, but also someone who had never appeared in the last thousand years, the one and only Bamboo Picker with a complete victory record!
Everyone had a vague hunch. Perhaps what they witnessed today was not just an extraordinary bamboo picker, but the beginning of the rise of a generation of legends in the cultivation world!
Lower South Continent, Emerald City, in front of the Flying Immortal List.
Many people crowded on the giant wooden square, and the teahouse opposite the Flying Immortal List was also very lively.
A big-eared cultivator sat in the teahouse, took a sip of tea, and said leisurely, “Counting the days, if everything goes well, someone will pick the bamboo core in the next two days. I wonder who is the lucky one this time.”
Another small-eyed cultivator said, “Who else can it be? The winner will be among Luo Binnan of Sword Inscription Sect, Jie Chen of Three Realm Temple, and Wei Zhentu of Scattered Stars Villa, one of those young talents.”
Big-eared cultivator, “Among these people, Luo Binnan is naturally superior if it is about combat power. In terms of the state of mind, it’d be Jie Chen, while comprehension will belong to Wei Zhentu for sure. They have their advantages, but ultimately, it depends on luck.”
A bulbous-nosed cultivator at the next table couldn’t help but interject, “Tsk, that’s not necessarily true. The bamboo-picking event this time is full of talented people. Su Bingqing of the Palace of Nine Moons, Wu Miaozi of Green Bamboo Sanctuary, and Kang Jin of the Mauve Aurora Sect are not to be underestimated. Oh, by the way, there’s Jing-laozu of Frostcloud Sect…”
“Pfft…” the little-eyed cultivator scoffed, “The first few people you mentioned are alright, but although Jing-laozu is very strong, he’s just at the low-level of Foundation Establishment stage. Fundamentally, he’s already at a disadvantage, so how can he take the spot?”
As soon as the voice fell, a clamor was heard from the outside world, and someone shouted, “The list has changed! The list has changed!”
The people in the teahouse jumped up from their seats and looked out with their necks stretched. If the Flying Immortal List was not so crowded that they could not squeeze in, they couldn’t wait to see it with their own eyes!
The big-eared cultivator said anxiously, “Friends, tell us the results!”
Every Bamboo Picker, regardless if this person was on the list before, or what ranking, would be in the forefront of the Flying Immortal List after the bamboo-picking event. A bamboo leaf insignia would be added to the back of the name, which would not be removed until the next bamboo picker emerged.
Someone in the crowd exclaimed in shock, “It’s him!”
“How could it be him?”
Big-eared cultivator, “…” Who the heck were you talking about?!
“It’s… it’s actually Jing-laozu!”
“Who?!” The little-eyed cultivator couldn't believe it and his voice changed. “Are you kidding me?”
“It’s written on the Flying Immortal List. If you don’t believe it, see it for yourself!”
Little-eyed cultivator, “…” If I could squeeze in, did I have to ask you?!
“I really didn’t expect this. Isn’t he just a low-level Foundation Establishment? He actually beat Luo Binnan and the others?”
“Isn’t he just extremely lucky?”
“No matter how lucky he gets, isn’t it too unreal? To be the bamboo picker at such a cultivation level, he can almost contend with Qin-zhenjun. I wonder how many times Jing-laozu failed. How is it compared with Qin-zhenjun?”
“To beat Qin-zhenjun, he must score a complete victory. Is that possible?”
Everyone subconsciously thought it was impossible, but staring at the green bamboo leaf behind Jing Yue's name, they felt that nothing would be impossible with this Laozu.
Someone sighed, “Frostcloud Sect’s decline over the years seems to have stopped. Not only does the number of people on the Mountain River List increase year by year, but there is also such a genius who soared above the rest. It is said that he is less than twenty!”
“Yup! I heard that the day he entered the academy, the technique he comprehended even invoked a lightning tribulation! If he continues like this, he might be the next Daoist-Master Jing Yuan!” After that, the man cupped his hands towards the far north.
“As expected of a major sect. Even if it declines for a while, the foundation can’t be shaken by other forces. Once a talent emerges, the world will tremble!”
All the praises were like one slap after another, turning the little-eyed cultivator’s face into a steamed bun!
Jing Yue didn't know any of this. Although advancing into the mid-level Foundation Establishment stage and getting the title of Bamboo Picker attracted a lot of attention for him, as the patriarch of Frostcloud Sect, he had long been accustomed to being the focus in the eyes of others, so the subsequent days were still peaceful.
Except… always being intercepted by the disciples of Green Bamboo Sanctuary to discuss the light body charm… and the beast-suppression charm.
By now, everyone knew that the beast-suppression charm was made by him, and naturally, they also knew who the inventor of the fetal sculpting talisman was. And all this was because of Wu Dao-zhenren’s big mouth!
When this person returned to Green Bamboo Sanctuary, he took the light-body talisman and bragged about it. After the bamboo picking event was over, as the representative of Green Bamboo Sanctuary, with the last shreds of humility remaining in his heart, he came in the dark and asked Jing Yue what other beast-suppression talisman he had created.
It was rare for Jing Yue to see the embarrassed look on Wu Dao-zhenren’s face. After a while, he said, “Could it be that Green Bamboo Sanctuary also wants to share a piece of the pie and study the ones I haven’t refined?”
Seeing Wu Dao-zhenren’s hesitance, Jing Yue knew he was right.
“Mm… that’s fine. I don’t plan to continue with the beast-suppression charm anyway. It’s very troublesome.”
Wu Dao-zhenren asked repeatedly and got Jing Yue's affirmative answer. Instantly, he was overjoyed and hurriedly took out a lot of talismans and spirit jade. “These are the rewards of the bamboo picking event and also thanks from the Green Bamboo Sanctuary. The Sect Leader has said that if you are willing, you may learn any ten talismans below the Golden Core stage from our sect.”
Jing Yue accepted their gratitude without any qualms.
Before leaving, Wu Dao-zhenren hesitated to speak.
Jing Yue seemed to read his mind and said, “The fetal sculpting talisman is my bottom line. I hope you can stop asking. Otherwise, my Shixiong might come knocking on your door.”
Wu Dao-zhenren shuddered. Jing Yue’s Shixiong was naturally… Patriarch Yi Ye. Just thinking about it… the picture was so beautiful that he didn't dare to look at it.
However, he didn't expect much from the fetal sculpting talisman in the first place, so he still happily went back to report to the Sect Leader of his success.
After he left, Jing Yue laid out the gifts that he had just received.
Well, the talismans on this side, this was for the sect…
Well, the spirit jade on the other side, this was for him…
After calculating, he received 50,000 spirit jade! That was equivalent to 5 million spirit stones!
Jing Yue was very pleased as he praised Green Bamboo Sanctuary inwardly. One-fifth of all talismans sold in the cultivation world came from Green Bamboo Sanctuary. How could they not be swimming in spirit stones?
Blue phoenix rolled in the spirit jade happily and sighed contentedly, “Jing-jing, I feel so energized. Do you think Ji-ji is going to advance soon?”
Jing Yue, “Show me a leaf blade.”
Blue phoenixes were divine beasts of wood attribute and the leaf blade was their most basic attack skill.
Ji-ji took a deep breath, puffed its mouth, spread its wings, and sprayed fiercely, “Burp!”
Jing Yue, “…”
At this moment, there was a knock on the door.
Blue phoenix tilted its little head. “Who is here so late?” It jumped up suddenly and its eyes flashed. “Is there a fairy who has fallen in love with you and wants you to have a private meeting at night? Jing-jing, let me tell you…”
Jing Yue, “Maybe Wu Dao-zhenren forgot something.”
As soon as the voice fell, he heard a man’s low voice, “Jing-laozu, it’s me, Wei Zhentu.”