Plundering the Heavens - 171 The Yaochi Gathering
The carriage didn’t look that big from the outside, but inside was like a palace decorated with all kinds of precious ornaments and rare treasures. Xuan Si’nyang rested her chin in her right hand as she sat atop a couch, her brows slightly creased as she seemed to think deeply on something. In front of her sat a white-dressed Xiao Mahn, whose head was lowered as she quietly sobbed.
“Spirit Mountain Temple…. Spirit Mountain Temple…. Ever since the destruction of the Buddha, you haven’t shown an interest in the world for over ten thousand years. What are you trying to accomplish with what you did today?”
Xuan Si’nyang thought to herself for so long, yet she was still unable to understand the purpose behind the Meat-Wine Monk’s actions. She was not convinced this had all happened simply because the monk wanted to pay Fang Xing back. Furthermore, the monk had shown an extremely powerful force—as though he was trying to force her to retreat from Jambu—so she was certain that orders from the Spirit Mountain Temple must have had a hand in today’s events.
As for precisely what this group of monks wanted to do, however, she could not figure it out.
Xuan Si’nyang sighed and decided not to dwell on this any further. As she raised her head, she took notice of Xiao Mahn—who was sobbing low with her head down—and showed a smile. “Girl, joining the Fuyao Palace and becoming one of my people is an opportunity an uncountable number of cultivators would dream to have. I thought that Shifu of yours was too unkind as a person and I didn’t have the heart to let her ruin your future, which is why I offered her an Ancient technique in exchange for you. Why is it you don’t understand my kind heart and are instead sobbing the entire time?”
Xiao Mahn bowed. “Your… Your Highness, Xiao Mahn… Xiao Mahn doesn’t want to go to the Fuyao Palace….”
Xuan Si’nyang laughed. “That’s because you don’t know how many fun places there are at the Fuyao Palace. There are many girls around your age and numerous caves and locations for you to explore, with plenty of rare and exquisite spirit beasts. It is many times better than this Qing-Yun place….”
Xiao Mahn bit her lip and roughly shook her head. “I… I only want to go where my young master is….”
Xuan Si’nyang was surprised by this. “Young master…?” Just as she was about to ask who this “young master” was, her spirit sense suddenly felt something move and she heard a sound that caused her brows to crease.
Thirty miles away, the golden crow had become a golden ray as it chased behind the jade carriage at full speed. Fang Xing’s concern was all too obvious, to the point it almost seemed as though flames were coming out of his eyes. He held tightly onto his saber as he gave chase, and screamed out “Xiao Mahn” at the top of his lungs without end. What he was concerned about most was the possibility those from the Fuyao Palace would travel too fast for him to catch up, so he rushed forward without care for his own safety.
Truthfully, when he’d said he would take Xiao Mahn along with him when he left the sect in the future, it had actually been just empty words and he didn’t actually think he’d take her along with him after he killed Xiao Jianming. He was a person who preferred to roam the world freely with no strings attached, after all, and it was also because of this that he’d been rather happy when he first heard Xiao Mahn had been accepted into the Fuyao Palace.
But Fang Xing had never expected the Fuyao Palace would have such a stupid rule! Although they were called female disciples, they were actually all concubines to the palace master….
F*ck the palace master’s uncle! How could he let his slave become someone else’s concubine?
This was the reason for his anxious heart, and he forced the golden crow to chase after the carriage even faster.
After flying nonstop, the golden crow’s eyes lit up as he announced, “We’ve caught up!” A shining jade carriage was traveling on a cloud in front of them, and the old women surrounding the carriage sent unfriendly glares their way. It was precisely the vessel Xuan Si’nyang was traveling in during this trip.
It also seemed as though it had stopped—as though it had been waiting for them.
As the golden crow brought Fang Xing closer, he felt he’d already done his part and so began to remind Fang Xing to not cause any trouble, “You know, you should speak with them nicely. Don’t get physical, or else your Uncle Gold will run immediately without taking you along—”
Before the crow had even finished, Fang Xing already started to yell out in anger, “Give me back my Xiao Mahn!”
Xuan Si’nyang’s voice rose up from within the jade carriage, “Child, I already heard you screaming from over ten miles away, and your voice was so loud it annoyed me! You’re not lacking in guts, though. Trying to stop me from interrupting your elder was enough for you to be put to death. I decided not to bother with that matter to give face to the Meat-Wine Monk, yet now you’ve dared to chase after me. Do you really think I won’t kill you?”
Xuan Si’nyang’s solemn voice carried a formless weight that hung over Fang Xing like a gloomy cloud. Fang Xing jumped at this, wiping his face and suppressing the anger within his voice as he replied, “Xiao Mahn is my slave; how can you take her away just like that? As long as you return her to me, I’ll immediately leave…”
Before Xuan Si’nyang answered, Granny Qian next to the carriage showed a hint of killing intent in her eyes and said, “Hmph, kid, how dare you ask for someone from our Fuyao Palace? Are you already tired of living?”
“I wasn’t talking to you!” Fang Xing angrily replied, his eyes fixed only on the jade carriage. This caused Granny Qian to feel even more anger, but she didn’t dare to act out since Xuan Si’nyang hadn’t responded yet. She would have truly choked this boy if she could.
“I exchanged a scroll with an Ancient technique to Qin’nyao for this girl. She was Qin’nyao’s pupil before, and now she serves under me. What entitles you to come up to me and demand her without any qualifications?” Xuan Si’nyang coldly asked after a long while.
Fang Xing’s answer was quick: “What qualifies Qin’nyao that old b*tch to hand Xiao Mahn to you? Xiao Mahn is mine, not hers!”
Inside the jade carriage, Xuan Si’nyang’s brows lifted as she heard his words; it seemed as though he was challenging her dignity. She then calmly looked at Xiao Mahn, who was looking at her with pleading eyes in the hopes Xuan Si’nyang would allow her to leave.
A peculiar feeling began to rise within Xuan Si’nyang’s heart. ‘What’s wrong with the Fuyao Palace? Just anyone dares to challenge the dignity of the Fuyao Palace now? The Meat-Wine Monk is supported by the Spirit Mountain Temple, that’s fair enough, but why does an insect like him—a mere boy in Spirit Stage—dare to chase after me to ask for someone? Why would Xiao Mahn rather leave with this boy and not care for all the wealth and future potential the Fuyao Palace would offer her?’
An inexplicable anger began to rise as Xuan Si’nyang harbored such thoughts, and her voice grew cold. She could allow no doubt! “Oh? Really? Well, let me tell you this today: Qin’nyao can’t decide what she is, you can’t decide what she is, and not even she can decide what she is. The only one who can decide what she is is me. From today onwards, she’s not Qin’nyao’s pupil, let alone your slave. She is my servant, and the concubine of the Fuyao Palace’s future master. If she’s lucky, perhaps she’ll even become the next Lady Goddess.”
Xuan Si’nyang’s voice had been calm, yet it had only made Fang Xing angrier. “Why?” he screamed out.
“Because I am Xuan Si’nyang of the Fuyao Palace!” With that single phrase that contained all of the answers, the jade carriage turned and flew off with the wind.
A low cry suddenly rose up from the carriage. Xiao Mahn was already full of tears, but she firmly covered her mouth with her hands to try to keep Fang Xing from hearing it.
“Don’t you leave!” Fang Xing urged. He was about to continue chasing after the carriage, but Granny Qian and another old woman suddenly appeared in front of him to block his way.
“Boy, let me say I’ve already spared you once. If you continue to follow after us, you might end up losing that pitiful life of yours,” Granny Qian warned.
“Get out of my way!” Fang Xing was furious and swung his saber forward to strike at her, but even a full-fledged attack containing all of his power was nothing more than a joke in the face of Granny Qian. Her frail palm simply pushed gently forward and an extremely powerful force easily stopped Fang Xing in his tracks—not even the pinky on his hand could move any longer.
“What a stupid and arrogant child you are….” Granny Qian sneered. “My master ordered to keep you alive, but… crippling you shouldn’t be a problem.” As Granny Qian spoke, her hands began to pour forth Qi with the desire to completely destroy Fang Xing’s meridians.
Fang Xing used all of his power, but he was still unable to swing his saber down as he felt an extremely powerful force wrap around him from all directions. The force also seemed intent on entering his bloodstream and meridians to spread throughout his body, and his little face was already bright red. His bones began to make sharp snapping sounds, as though his body was truly about to explode.
“Please show mercy!” a loud voice rang out just at this moment, the words belonging to an old man in a black robe who was flying closer at extreme speeds—Tie Rukuang. He arrived anxious and restless, and—as soon as he drew closer—he went straight to his knees on his cloud to beg towards Granny Qian. “Esteemed senior, please have mercy on this boy and spare his life. I will definitely make sure to harshly punish him….”
“Hmph!” Granny Qian did not attach any importance to Tie Rukuang, and she only increased her force. At this time, however, Xuan Si’nyang’s calm voice filtered in from the air, “We’re in a hurry to travel right now. Just spare him….” These words caused Granny Qian to wave her hand and finally relieve Fang Xing from her force, but a trace of hatred swept past her eyes.
“Old… old b*tch….” Fang Xing let out a violent cough and tried to continue his attack using what little power he had left. Tie Rukuang was beside him and used a single motion to grab Fang Xing against his chest before binding him with Qi, to such a degree that all of Fang Xing’s meridians and senses were blocked to keep the boy from making another sound. With this, Tie Rukuang bowed once more towards Granny Qian. “Thank you, esteemed senior, for sparing my pupil’s life. When I take him back, I shall punish him severely for the troubles he has caused….”
Granny Qian let out a cold laugh. Without saying another word, she and the other old woman flew off into the distance.
“Mmmph…. Mmmmph….” Fang Xing’s face was a bright red hue. The hatred in his eyes was so great it practically spilled out.
This didn’t faze Tie Rukuang, though, and he didn’t hesitate to grab the boy tighter against his chest before flying a good hundred miles in the opposite direction of Xuan Si’nyang. He cast a few barrier spells around them before freeing Fang Xing and scolded, “Are you really trying to get yourself killed? The Fuyao Palace already hated you to the core; do you really think they won’t dare to kill you?”
“Why? Why is she taking away Xiao Mahn? Xiao Mahn is mine…” Fang Xing screamed hysterically. He tried to get out of the barriers, but Tie Rukuang’s power stopped him.
“Why? Because in front of them, you and I are like insects. Is that not enough?”
“To have battle prowess is to be the boss?” Fang Xing was going mad as he struggled with all his might. “Anyone could take Xiao Mahn as long as they have battle prowess?”
Tie Rukuang could only show a bitter smile. “Of course they can. In fact, for you to be spared today was already a stroke of good fortune on its own. You’re not stupid, I don’t have to spell out everything to you—within this cultivation realm, it’s always been the powerful who get all the respect. This also means that if you’re not strong enough, you can only accept your fate, even if it means accepting something unfortunate or unfair. Do you still not understand this?
“In front of those ordinary disciples, you young talents of the sect are considered the heaven and the earth. You can take whatever you want from them, and we elders turn a blind eye and don’t take it too seriously. However, in front of us—us old folks who have entered the Foundation Stage—all you’d be able to do is obey. It’s the same as when we’re standing in front of the Fuyao Palace. To them, we’re not much better than insects, and we can only grin and bear anything they throw at us without complaining, no matter how unfair!”
Tie Rukuang sighed and moved in front of Fang Xing before patting the boy’s shoulder with his large hand. “The path of cultivation is the same. If you can’t become stronger than everyone else, then you should at least learn how to survive well under them!”
That final sentence caused the berserk Fang Xing to finally grow quiet. In his mind, he saw the expressions of those begging merchants when they were being robbed by the Guiyan Valley bandits. Then he remembered the eagle and sword-wielding Xiao Jianming, the scene where all of Guiyan Valley was massacred overnight….
Yes, it was all the same. The strong take from the weak. Not only could any items of value be taken, but so could lives as well! He’d started on the path of cultivation, but it was just a change of location and scenery—the principles behind everything were all the same.
In fact, this truth was even more evident in the realm of cultivators!
Although the bandits of Guiyan Valley robbed people, they still believed in taking money and sparing lives; to them, everyone was human and everyone’s lives were equal. In the realm of cultivators, however, for the strong to kill the weak was as simple as crushing an ant between a few fingers. Those who had power would only place value on their own lives; to them, the life of someone weaker was nothing at all.
Although Fang Xing had always understood this principle, it was still extremely uncomfortable for the truth to slap him so coldly in the face. Rather, it could be said that he hadn’t accepted the principle, he’d just believed he’d already learned enough skills and gained enough power. Now, he suddenly realized how insignificant and weak he truly was….
Seeing such a defeated look, Tie Rukuang felt a bit reluctant to hurt him further and sighed out, “You don’t need to be too sad; in fact, this matter isn’t so bad. If you really like that girl, just go and take her back in the future. Even if she were to become the concubine of the next Fuyao Palace master, that would only be a hundred years from now, and she’ll only be nurtured as a candidate to become their Lady Goddess in the meantime. She’ll be incorruptible and kept pure, not allowed to be close to any men, so you still have a very good chance….”
Surprised, Fang Xing turned around and stiffly asked, “A hundred years?”
Tie Rukuang nodded. “Indeed. At the Yaochi Pond Gathering every thousand years, a new Lady Goddess is born. It is only during that day that those who do not become the Lady Goddess become concubines for the Fuyao Palace master. There are still a hundred years left before the next Yaochi Gathering; this is your chance to grow stronger….”
Not even Tie Rukuang could continue speaking after that. His words were empty, meant only to comfort.
What sort of existence was that Fuyao Palace?
What sort of scale was that Yaochi Gathering?
Once every thousand years, the only people eligible for this gathering were people in the Budding Soul Stage. Even if this boy was a rare talent, to step into even the Golden Core Stage within these hundred years would be considered a defiance of natural order; how could he possibly become a Budding Soul cultivator by the time of the gathering? Not only that, Tie Rukuang had even been encouraging Fang Xing to reclaim the girl during this Yaochi Gathering!
Tie Rukuang had grown a bit worried when he saw such a sly and laid-back boy suddenly become so angry. He was afraid Fang Xing would go temporarily mad and bring about his own death, so he’d said such empty words to soothe and comfort him. In any case, if the boy was so determined to join the Yaochi Gathering to take place in a hundred years’ time, then at least he wouldn’t continue to act impulsively right now and would survive.
Hearing these words caused Fang Xing to become silent for a long while. “A hundred years!” he repeated. He lowered his head and clenched his teeth, until finally saying in a soft voice, “Let go of me.”
Seeing that the boy had calmed down, Tie Rukuang nodded before canceling all of his spells and putting away the tools he’d used to bind the boy.
“Old man, you’re right. This is how the world is. You can kill if you have a knife, and if you don’t have a knife, you’re the one who gets killed. In fact, I knew this ever since I was young!” Fang Xing didn’t rush out and spoke with a calm manner. “Except, I will never be able to learn how to grin and bear whatever is thrown at me, to learn how to live and just accept my fate. So I can only become the strongest!”
There was a tinge of viciousness within Fang Xing’s eyes as he stood up atop the back of the golden crow, his eyes looking fiercely towards the direction of the Fuyao Palace. “Only I am allowed to take things from others, and it’s unacceptable for anyone to take something from me. Since that Fuyao Palace took away my slave, I swear I will one day pay them a visit, wreck that broken palace into pieces, take anything of value, smash anything I can’t take with me, and then burn anything I can’t smash….” As soon as he made this vow, he realized he had forgotten to include Xiao Mahn and added, “All while taking Xiao Mahn back!”
Tie Rukuang was left speechless by this. ‘Even at times like this, this little bastard is still thinking about robbing stuff….’ However, after hearing this vow, Tie Rukuang knew all his earlier worries had been unnecessary. This boy had always been extremely clever, and although he got angry every so often and seemed impulsive without a care in the world, when the boy was calm he knew more about such principles than even Tie Rukuang did. With this, Tie Rukuang released a bitter laugh and asked, “Now that the Xiao family has the upper hand, you probably won’t be able to stay in the Qing-Yun Sect any longer. Do you have any plans?”
Tie Rukuang might be iron-headed, but he could analyze matters quite thoroughly. Now that the Xiao family had gained power, the Qing-Yun Sect would no longer be a friendly place. Even he himself considered leaving the sect, and it was even more important for this pupil of his to do likewise. Tie Rukuang might be able to remain at the sect for some time—enough to pack up his belongings—but if this boy were to return at all, it was likely the Xiao family would immediately target him.
“Me? I’ll go back first! There’s still the tournament match that hasn’t been resolved!” Fang Xing seriously replied.
Tie Rukuang furrowed his brows. “At times like this, you’re still thinking about that tournament match?”
Fang Xing nodded. “If I am going to be the strongest, then I’ll have to start from that Foundation Pellet!”
Atop the main peak of the Qing-Yun Sect, Xiao Shanhe was full of smiles. “Sect Master, can this Foundation Pellet now be gifted to Jianming?” he asked Chen Xuanhua. His smile was very courteous, but there had already been some changes in his gaze.
Xuan Si’nyang of the Fuyao Palace had kept her word. Even though she hadn’t successfully interrupted the seclusion, she had still promised him the Ancient technique for revealing this secret to her. With the technique in hand, he was in a state of exaltation and felt he had enough power to contend against the sect master.
Chen Xuanhua, on the other hand, creased his brows and didn’t speak for some time.
At that moment, Elder Qin’nyao began speaking with a smile, “Shixiong Xiao, Qin’nyao has a request. Would it be possible for me to study this Foundation Pellet for a few days first? I will definitely return it to Jianming immediately after, along with a gift to show my gratitude!”
Xiao Shanhe was a little astonished and harbored some hesitation. In order to study pellets that were already crafted, the pellets would typically be ground it up into a powder and studied one grain at a time to figure out how it was made. Other times, the pellet would be repeatedly refined through various techniques to calculate what kind of heat and method the original crafting process had used. For this reason, giving a pellet to an alchemist to “study” was like tossing a meat bun to a dog—the meat bun would never return.
Xiao Shanhe was naturally unwilling, but Qin’nyao had also received an Ancient technique from the Fuyao Palace. Even if she were not allowed to teach this technique to anyone else, it wouldn’t be a problem for her to create a golden core for herself. Put simply, it was likely that Qin’nyao would be the only other person to become a threat to him in the future; for someone like this, it was a good idea to try to entice her to his side, so he didn’t reject her directly.
Qin’nyao seemed to see through his thoughts and smiled. “Shixiong Xiao, please be at ease. I promise I will not destroy this pellet; I will only study it for a few days and—at most—scrape a thin layer of powder from it. I promise I’ll return a complete Foundation Pellet within seven days…. Furthermore, to help Jianming step into the Foundation Stage more smoothly, I have twelve Nine-Turn Spiritual Pellets I’ve treasured for a long time that I shall gift to him!”
Xiao Shanhe’s eyes lit up when he heard this. He knew how precious these twelve pellets Qin’nyao had kept over the years were. They were part of her savings of rare and valuable treasures, and the combined value of these Nine-Turn Spiritual Pellets were quite possibly no less than that of an ordinary Foundation Pellet, and a Nine-Turn Spiritual Pellet was also nearly the best option for a Spirit Stage cultivator. That she was willing to take them out was a pleasant surprise, and a smile grew on Xiao Shanhe’s face while he considered the proposal. “Shimei Qin’nyao’s request is naturally one I will not reject.”
As the two discussed the matter, the expression on Sect Master Chen Xuanhua’s face had already become gloomy. He hadn’t even agreed to give the Foundation Pellet to Xiao Jianming, yet these two had already started to discuss whether or not it would be lent out. Just what had he become in their eyes? However, Chen Xuanhua no longer felt like opposing Xiao Shanhe anymore, so he only let out a sigh.
Just as Chen Xuanhua was about to speak up, a cloud suddenly flew in at an extreme speed from the edge of the sky, with Tie Rukuang, Fang Xing, and the golden crow riding atop it. Before the cloud had even drawn in close, Fang Xing’s voice could be heard shouting, “Xiao Jianming, the winner of the Qing-Yun tournament has yet to be determined! Do you dare to fight with me?”
In front of the Breakwater Grand Hall, the expressions of the Xiao uncle-nephew pair, Elder Qin’nyao, and even Sect Master Chen Xuanhua all changed. The Fuyao Palace guest had left and the Xiao family was now clearly ready to rise up into power, yet this boy was now actively provoking them? Was the boy not afraid of offending this uncle-nephew pair too much, or was he simply hoping for death, knowing all too well it was only a matter of time before he met his end?
“Hmph, I was worried the boy would flee. Who would have thought he’d actually come back on his own….” Xiao Shanhe’s eyes chilled as he released a cold laugh, and the murderous intentions he harbored were no longer concealed from his voice. He’d worried about Chen Xuanhua in the past and hadn’t dare to act openly, but now he feared nothing.
At the same time, someone next to him suddenly interrupted, “Uncle, please give me this chance to get rid of him myself!” This had come from Xiao Jianming, who was nearly pleading for it.
A little surprised, Xiao Shanhe realized his nephew had become fixated on killing the boy with his own two hands. Furthermore, if Xiao Shanhe were to try to deal with the boy himself, Sect Master Chen Xuanhua would assuredly stand in the way, and that metal-head elder would also show some disagreements with it. Although he was going to rise to power, he hadn’t formed the golden core just yet; it wasn’t time for him to shed all pretense right now. He considered this and—faced without any better options—gave a nod. “Then go for it. By the way, try to keep him alive.”
Xiao Jianming knew his uncle still wanted to force out the secrets Fang Xing held and returned a nod of his own. “Understood.”
Fang Xing had already arrived near the Thousand Cliff by now, and he quietly spoke something to the crow before jumping off his back. The crow flew off with shimmering eyes, and Fang Xing apparently decided not to wait for the crow and instead walked into the Thousand Cliff alone. Once he was there, he folded both of his arms across his chest full of vigor and stamina and yelled out, “Xiao Jianming, come and be killed. I—your uncle—don’t want to wait around any longer!”
Xiao Jianming was riding atop his steel eagle as they circled over the Thousand Cliff. “You’re really that desperate to commit suicide?” he coldly laughed while looking down on Fang Xing.
Fang Xing smiled. “Yeah. Not only that, I’m itching for it! Why don’t you come down and scratch some of it for me?”
“Hahaha…” Xiao Jianming madly laughed before riding his eagle onto the Thousand Cliff’s stage. “I will make sure you enjoy it!” he coldly answered.
Xiao Jianming was full of self-confidence at this moment. When he saw how Fang Xing hadn’t brought the golden crow inside with him, he even truly believed Fang Xing was coming to willfully die. It seemed all too clear that Fang Xing knew he couldn’t escape his own fate and so had let the crow go so the boy could face death alone.
Although Fang Xing was now without a mount, Xiao Jianming still decided to bring his steel eagle along; he still remembered how his uncle had told him to do everything carefully.