Chen Kingdom, Flying Blossoms Mountain.
The winter snow melted and wildflowers bloomed in the mountains. On the mountain road, a man and a woman walked ahead, followed by several servants carrying loads of things.
The richly dressed middle-aged man said, “As expected of an immortal mountain indeed. Most of the trees at the bottom of the mountain are still bare. The more we go up, the more luxuriant the flowers and trees are. How does it look like winter has just passed?”
The woman said, “But of course. This is where the Xianzhang lives. I wonder if my son is doing well.”
The middle-aged man, “Since Tianci has a predestined relationship with the immortal gate, he must be well. What are you worried about?”
The woman, “You’re right.” She sighed forlornly. “Since Tianci left that day, I never saw him again. I’ve been thinking of him even in my dreams.”
The middle-aged man patted her comfortingly, “We shall be seeing our son soon. Let’s cheer up.”
The two of them were none other than Yuan Genzhu and Madam Ma. They received an imperial decree, and after getting consent from Wu Zhongchun, who had been in close contact with them, they set off excitedly for Chen Kingdom.
About a quarter of an hour later, they came to a cliff and there was no road ahead.
A servant exclaimed in surprise, “Old Master, did we take the wrong way?”
Yuan Genzhu shook his head, stepped forward without hesitation, and knocked on an inconspicuous rock beside the cliff.
He followed the method Wu-xianzhang taught him. His knocks were one light and one heavy, one short and one long, and another three taps. Suddenly, there was a blur in front of him, and the mountain road appeared again. But this time, the inconspicuous stone had transformed into a huge boulder with the words ‘Mini Frostcloud Sect’ engraved on it.
A six or seven-year-old boy stood beside the boulder and said with his chest puffed out, “I’m Song Xiaobao, a disciple of Mini Frostcloud Sect. Please announce yourselves.”
Yuan Genzhu immediately took out a scroll from his arms and cautiously handed it over. “Little Xianzhang, we come from Xiang Kingdom. My name is Yuan Genzhu with my wife Madam Ma. I’m invited by Wu-xianzhang this time to visit the mountain and meet the sect leader. I hope you can accommodate us.”
After Song Xiaobao took the scroll and confirmed it carefully, he said in a pretentiously matured manner, “It turned out to be friends of Second-shixiong. Please come with me.”
Along the way, they passed the forest and crossed over bridges, and finally reached the mountain gate of Mini Frostcloud Sect.
Yuan Genzhu and his wife were led to see Wu Zhongchun. When they passed by a classroom, they suddenly heard the sounds of orderly reciting, “The heavens are mysterious and the universe is unfathomable…”
Yuan Genzhu was surprised, wondering inwardly why immortals had to learn the Thousand Character Classic.
(TN: Thousand Character Classic 千字文 is teaching literature most children have to learn.)
Song Xiaobao seemed to read his mind and said triumphantly, “Many of the sect disciples are still young, some from poor families, and most of them are illiterate. The sect leader specially invited a teacher to teach them. According to the sect leader, only by being able to read can we understand various manuals and exercises.”
Yuan Genzhu nodded repeatedly. “Yes, you’re right. Learning to read is good!”
Song Xiaobao directly led them to the main hall. Wu Zhongchun was waiting in the hall, but when the Yuan husband and wife entered the hall, they felt as if they were struck by lightning. How would they even notice Wu Zhongchun? Their eyes and attention were full of the eight or nine-year-old boy wearing blue robes in the temple.
The appearance of the boy was so good that ordinary people could not help feeling ashamed when they saw him. Some shadows of his features seemed familiar to the couple yet different from those in their memories.
At this time, the boy stood in front of them. His posture was as upright as a young bamboo. Although still young, his demeanor was already established.
Even though the Yuan couple thought about him day and night, they dared not step forward at this time.
“Tian… Tianci?” Yuan Genzhu said in a trembling voice. The words were stammered, betraying his complicated emotions, while Madam Ma next to him was already speechless, tears falling endlessly.
The boy nodded and said with a smile, “Father, Mother.”
At that moment, the Yuan couple only felt their heads buzzing, countless fireworks exploding in front of their eyes.
But… they still dared not rush forward to the scene of a family reunion, only standing on the spot with reddened eyes and foolish joy.
When the two finally calmed down, they noticed the others in the hall, and suddenly remembered where they were. Their knees felt weak and they wanted to kneel.
Jing Yue glanced at Qin Yanzhi surreptitiously. Although the latter did not look at him, he raised his hand comprehendingly, and a spiritual force enveloped the Yuan family, preventing them from kneeling.
Now that he was a level-6 Qi Refining, this small matter wouldn’t pose a problem for him.
Jing Yue, “Mini Frostcloud Sect doesn’t encourage kneeling and worshipping. Please have a seat first.”
After a few words of greeting, the Yuan couple finally made their intentions understood.
Yuan Genzhu, “We have to start telling you this matter from before Emperor Taizu ascended the throne.”
It turned out the surname of the Emperor of Xiang Kingdom was Zhao. 500 years ago, Emperor Taizu was an ordinary hunter and his ancestral home was in Xiayin Village, Luo County. When he was 21 years old, an earthquake occurred in Xiang Kingdom and Xiayin Village was also affected. At that time, Zhao Taizu was hunting in the mountains and he accidentally fled into a valley in panic. The valley was full of flowers and there was a pool of clear spring water. Zhao Taizu was thirsty and tired, and quickly drank a few mouthfuls of water from the spring.
When the spring water entered his throat, Zhao Taizu felt that it tasted extremely sweet and his exhaustion dissipated instantly. He immediately felt that the spring water was unusual.
When he returned to the village, he did not disclose the secrets of the spring water, but secretly took the rest of the Zhao family to the valley, and also concealed the entrance to the valley.
During that time, Zhao Taizu would venture up the mountain every night and take water from the valley. A few months later, the bodies of the Zhao family were much stronger. Even Zhao Taizu's 40-year-old father looked like a young man in his 20s. The Zhao family was worried that their secrets would one day be exposed and were hesitating whether to move their family into the mountains when civil strife suddenly broke out in Xiang.
As the saying went, heroes were made in troubled times, and Zhao Taizu was that hero. He led the Zhao family to join the imperial court's volunteer army and became the leader of the volunteer army seven years later, but by then, the former imperial family had been overthrown, and the volunteer army suddenly became the rebel army.
Zhao Taizu simply made himself king, and after another twelve years of warfare, he finally unified the Xiang Kingdom and became the emperor.
After that, he built the imperial mausoleum near Xiayin Village. Everyone said he couldn’t forget his ancestral home, but the real reason was that he wanted to cover up the secret of the divine spring forever, to ensure that his Zhao family's kingdom continued for thousands of years.
Hearing this, Jing Yue got interested and asked, “Does his enthronement have a lot to do with the spring water?”
Yuan Genzhu, “Very much. During the battle, Taizu was seriously injured twice and poisoned once. Even the doctors asserted that he couldn't survive, but he scraped through with the spring water he carried. Moreover, the members of the Xiang royal family led long lives. Other countries have changed more than a dozen emperors in two to three hundred years, while the Xiang Kingdom, counting from the Taizu, only reached the sixth generation by now, which greatly avoided turmoil in the country.”
Jing Yue, “In that case, why did the emperor of Xiang tell you the secret, or rather, let Mini Frostcloud Sect know about this? Isn’t he afraid I’d snatch his divine spring?”
Yuan Genzhu felt very guilty, bit the bullet, and said, “Because the spring is almost dried up.”
“Hah!” Jing Yue couldn't help laughing. “Your Xiang emperor has come up with a good plan. The spring is about to dry up. He’s worried that the Zhao family's kingdom will be unstable, so he made the best use of the information by revealing it to me so that he’d be blessed by my Mini Frostcloud Sect in the future.”
Yuan Genzhu’s face turned different colors before squeezing a sentence from his throat, “The emperor didn’t make any request, just said to tell the immortal about this matter.”
Jing Yue, “What request can he make? He just wanted to try his luck, but I’m curious, why didn’t he approach Tiangang Sect?”
Yuan Genzhu said hesitantly, “This… the emperor didn’t say.”
Jing Yue pondered. It was most likely that the Xiang emperor was worried that Tiangang Sect would be unhappy that they reported this matter only when it was about to dry up. Seeing that Mini Frostcloud Sect was not powerful, he wanted to take a gamble.
However, he was still very interested in the divine spring Yuan Genzhu mentioned. If the spring water really had the effect of healing and prolonging life, the water must contain spiritual energy, and spiritual energy would not come out of thin air. There must be a source of it nearby, only depending on whether it was a heavenly treasure, spiritual stone, or spiritual mine. If the latter, he would have picked up a great bargain.
Jing Yue, “Very well then, I already know about this. You may stay on the mountain for a few days. Later, I’ll go with you to Xiang Kingdom.”
Yuan Genzhu was overjoyed and immediately said, “The emperor has intentions to declare Mini Frostcloud Sect as a state religion, just like Chen Kingdom, and henceforth be subordinated to you.”
Jing Yue smiled and said, "If that divine spring is really useful to me, I won't treat Xiang Kingdom badly.”
In this way, the Yuan family spent a few days on Flying Blossoms Mountain before they returned to Xiang with Jing Yue. To their surprise, Tianci also went with them.
After meeting the emperor of Xiang, Jing Yue took Qin Yanzhi and followed the royal family members to Xiayin Village.
When he first entered the valley, Jing Yue discovered that this place was a small cave, and the spiritual energy was not much worse than that of Flying Blossoms Mountain. Even blue phoenix, who was always picky, was quite satisfied.
The spring was right in the middle of the valley. The pool was about 100 feet long from east to west and 70 or 80 feet wide from north to south. The water was clear and there was a thin layer of mist floating on the surface, like a layer of veil. The source of the spring was right in the center, the water surging upward forming a spinning wheel about one to two feet high.
The emperor who came with them sighed quietly, “When Taizu discovered the spring, the fountain was still about four or five feet high… but now… Fortunately, there’s still a lot of water left, so I hope the immortal will not scorn it.”
Why would Jing Yue scorn it? He could hardly contain his excitement. At this time, he was able to confirm that this was indeed a spiritual spring. The spring water contained extremely strong metal spiritual energy and it was very likely that there was a vein of metal spiritual mine hidden underground!
He suppressed his excitement and slowly released his divine consciousness.
The pool was about ten feet deep. From the source of the spring and downward, the crack in the ground extended dozens of feet and curved to the west.
Suddenly, his divine consciousness was blocked and could go no further.
How could this be? Jing Yue's heart was slightly shaken. Even though his divine consciousness in the Haotian Realm was limited, with his ability at mid-level Foundation Establishment stage, he should not fail at exploring the tracks of the underground water veins, right?
He frowned and said, “I want to go into the bottom of the spring to take a look, but the eye of the spring is too small and must be cut open. This spring will be rendered useless then.”
The emperor was stunned and his first reaction was to disagree. But then again, they had submitted the spring to Mini Frostcloud Sect. If they interfered at this time, it might cause a feud, so they could only agree gloomily.
As he didn't know whether there was any danger underground, Jing Yue wanted to leave Qin Yanzhi behind, but the latter just said pleasantly, “I’ll follow you after you go down first.”
Jing Yue, “…”
At a few years older, Lil Yanzhi was no longer as cute as when he was young. When he spoke sometimes… He had truly inherited the legacy of Big Yanzhi, his speech so blunt that it was simply annoying. But overall, Lil Yanzhi was still more personable than Big Yanzhi.
Just as Jing Yue was hesitant, blue phoenix also added to the chaos, “Anyway, Ji-ji is coming along too!”
Jing Yue had a method to deal with Ji-ji and immediately said, “The bottom of the spring may be dangerous.”
Blue phoenix shrank back but quickly raised its head confidently again, “Ji-ji has learned the leaf blade!”
Jing Yue, “…”
His heart was tired.
Forget it. If there was really a metal-element treasure hidden underground, perhaps Qin Yanzhi might get a chance encounter. After all, not all treasures were lying around waiting for someone to take them away. Sometimes, chance encounters were but a step away.
Jing Yue comforted himself before he agreed.
He tweaked his fingers, his mouth opened slightly, and chanted a mysterious spell.
The royal family members of Xiang suddenly felt cold, so extreme as if they were stripped of flesh and blood, and their bones were directly soaked in ice water. However, Qin Yanzhi could feel that the spiritual energy of heaven and earth was undergoing subtle changes.
The ground was seen to be covered under a layer of frost. With Jing Yue as the center, the frost got bigger and bigger, gradually spreading to the divine spring. Everything was frozen wherever it passed and even the treetops hung with icicles.
In a blink of an eye, the clear spring water was frozen into a mirror.
Jing Yue drew out the peach wood sword. Under his control, the sword pierced into the source of the spring from above and created a hole the size of a person straight into the ground.
He turned around and spoke to the group of Xiang royal family members who were already dumbfounded, “The ice will not melt in seven days. If I'm not up here after seven days, you should quickly take the spring water before it melts.”
With that said, he hugged Qin Yanzhi and jumped into the hole.
Jing Yue fell into a pool of water. There was no light in the water and the vision was pitch black, but the slightly cool water surrounded him, making him feel very comfortable.
He was a single water spiritual root with a natural love for water, not to mention the spiritual energy contained in the water.
“Aaaaahhhhh, Jing-jing, save me! Ji-ji actually doesn’t know how to swim!”
Jing Yue, “…”
He quickly created a water bubble and enveloped the blue phoenix.
Blue phoenix, who was already a drenched chicken now, breathed a sigh of relief, “Really! Ji-ji is almost scared to death!”
Due to the difficulty of movement in the water bubble, before falling into the water, Jing Yue only used a thin layer of spiritual energy to protect his body to prevent getting wet. Just like him, Qin Yanzhi was floating leisurely in the water at this time.
Jing Yue released his divine consciousness, didn’t sense any danger nearby, and said, “This is not stagnant water. We swim in the direction of the current.”
Two humans and one phoenix started moving. With the support of spiritual energy, neither he nor Qin Yanzhi needed to breathe, while blue phoenix was protected by the water bubble, it also relaxed, lying on its back in the bubble, kicking its claws up and down, and swinging its wings back and forth.
After swimming for some time, Jing Yue felt that the water vein started to move upward. Suddenly, a cave appeared in front of him, and this was the place where his consciousness was blocked just now.
He released his divine consciousness once again but was still blocked outside the cave. Jing Yue couldn’t figure it out so he said, “For some reason, my divine consciousness can’t be exercised here. Later, everyone must be careful. If we encounter any overwhelming danger, you two must hurry back the way you came.”
Qin Yanzhi pursed his lips and said nothing, but blue phoenix said, “Jing-jing, don’t worry, Ji-ji will protect you!”
Jing Yue remained silent and simply dived into the cave.