Volume 1, Chapter 11 – Heavenly Sect’s Contention at the Clear Sky Peak (Part 2)
Hearing Ai Zhongwen recommend a disciple who could surpass Mo Yuan, Zheng Xun’s complexion turned bright, “I don’t know which junior brother is being recommended by Junior Brother Ai?”
Ai Zhongwen replied, “This disciple’s name is Zhang Yan. He is a Profound Virtue Temple disciple. However, due to closing up and practicing, he didn’t attend this convention for the last few days. I think that he is still cultivating in his cave mansion right now. If we were to invite him, Senior Brother can use a Golden Whistle Sword to summon him here.”
The Golden Whistle Sword was made from one of the five elemental metals, of which were usually used by cultivators for long distance information transmissions. The disciples in the upper court commonly used this contact method. However, although the lower court also had this tool, it was strictly used by elite disciples such as Zheng Xun and were generally only used during urgent times.
Zheng Xun felt somewhat strange, “I know that the disciples from the Profound Virtue Temple are living in the Moon Catcher Peak, and it’s only about three cableways in distance from this Clear Sky Peak. So, why should we use the Golden Whistle Sword?”
Ai Zhongwen replied, “Firstly, this person lives on the 15th peak, the Hope Star Peak. Even if we were to invite him now, it would take some time to travel from that peak to the Clear Sky Peak. We would have to wait at least until tomorrow, and secondly, this person is not an ordinary disciple and cannot be summoned easily. However, if we use the Golden Whistle Sword, he would know the urgency of the news, and hopefully, he would stop practicing and quickly come.”
Zheng Xun’s expression clearly exposed some doubts. The 15th Hope Star Peak was under the Profound Virtue Temple’s management, and there were no outer nor inner disciples that lived there. So, how would the disciple that is being recommended by Ai Zhongwen live there?
He hesitated for a moment and then asked, “This disciple is surnamed, Zhang? I don’t know whether he is Zhang Fengyan, Zhang Genkun, or Zhang Mianze?”
Ai Zhongwen slowly shook his head.
He didn’t know about Zhang Yan’s true origin. Although he knew that he was Zhou’s Family son-in-law, it seemed that Zhang Yan didn’t want his true status widely known. And Ai Zhongwen also didn’t want to publicize it, as he didn’t want to become Zhang Yan’s enemy later. So, he couldn’t answer this question.
When Zheng Xun was about to ask him something else, someone suddenly interrupted, “Is this person from an ancient family?”
Ai Zhongwen still couldn’t say the truth, so he tactfully replied, “All fellow disciples don’t need to doubt him. This person’s origin is extraordinary, far above many others.”
That disciple sneered, “What is with this ‘far above many people’? I don’t know whether he is really worth the Golden Whistle Sword. As I see it, Junior Brother Ai has long been bathing in a mud pond, which made you blinded and forget your own origins.” He quickly turned around and cupped his hands, “Senior Brother Zheng, I know this Zhang Yan, he has severely shamed Senior Brother Hu’s steward about half a month ago. When the gambling fight ended, he took a poem manual from him. Senior Brother Hu, you know what I meant, right?”
As he turned and glanced at Hu Shengyu, his eyes faintly expressed mockery and ridicule.
Lin Yuan who sat on Zheng Xun’s left side also talked casually, “I also had heard about him from Ling Tong. This person has no background and is only a novice disciple. He just relied on the Eclipse text’s deduction method, of which I don’t know where he learned it from, to deceive people.”
These disciples were sitting in order based on their cultivation level. Hu Shengyu also sat in the front row on the right side. With his arrogant and aloof character, he rarely had contact with other disciples and didn’t even know about the event involving Bian Qiao and Zhang Yan. But hearing these words made his complexion darken in an instant. A murderous intent faintly flashed in his eyes.
Ai Zhongwen secretly sighed. He originally wanted to give Zhang Yan a chance to gain fame after beating Mo Yuan. However, he didn’t expect that he provoked troubles for him instead. After thinking about it carefully, he couldn’t help but despise these disciples and regret his actions which led to more troubles. These disciples only cared about their own reputation, so why should he try in the first place?
Listening to these disciple’s words, Zheng Xun suddenly felt disappointed. He shook his head and no longer spoke.
In the eyes of these elite disciples, if a person had no ancient family background, they were simply worthless. Some disciples were even mocking Ai Zhongwen, who thoughtlessly disregarded his own status to befriend a disciple with no background.
Originally, Ai Zhongwen stepped forward and gave his idea because he thought about the school’s reputation. Especially because their Sect was the current host of this convention. And when he heard that numerous disciples from the Vast Origin Sect and the Great Southern Sect had just arrived at Cangwu Mountain’s foot; if those sect’s disciples arrived at the peak first, where would Blue Ocean Sect’s honor be? So, because of that, it became urgent, and there was no one who could take on the responsibilities; the decision should be made quickly.
He never thought that his good intention actually resulted in these disciples humiliating him. These disciples clearly didn’t care about the honor and disgrace that their school would face. They only cared about their own status and reputation. Ai Zhongwen’s heart was slightly angered, “Fellow Brothers, I’m also only a novice disciple, it seems like I’m also a worthless person, so I’m not worthy to stay here. Fellow Disciples, I say goodbye to all of you!” He quickly cupped his hands, as he then flung his sleeves and slammed the door.
When he just walked outside, he stopped for a moment to see lush pines and cypress trees grandly standing on both sides of the road. His heroic spirit arose. Ai Zhongwen thought that he was also quite excellent at deciphering the Eclipse codes, even if he left the circle of these short-sighted people, he wouldn’t be left far behind them, right? He decided to personally act and face Mo Yuan, to see whether this teen really lived up to his name as a child prodigy. When Ai Zhongwen thought up here, a heroic spirit rose up from his heart as he then strode straight toward the second gate.
Zhang Yan had walked for a while. However, his pace had actually slowed down, since he was still immersed in the previous event. He couldn’t help but wonder: “What was the meaning behind that Daoist nun’s words?”
After successfully breaking through to the Primordial Qi Condensation Realm, his five senses were far sharper than before. He could clearly hear the dialog between the nun and Zhao Ying. And those remarks… was it intended for him?
She might’ve looked like she was intentionally provoking him. But Zhang Yan’s intuition told him that the other party would not have been superficial like that because there really was no reason to ask him about that story. So, there must by some other reason behind it.
“Like the river… like the river, then the scarce water flowed, a little circle…”
Zhang Yan stopped walking, frowning. He repeatedly contemplated those words, and suddenly he felt that… was it possible that she actually pointed out his cultivation level?
He thought more deeply about this point. The more he thought about it, the more he felt that possibility grow bigger…
By reason, with the ‘Exquisite Records of the Inner Qi Profound Origins’ manual in his hand, even if his cultivation practice was not as smooth as before, it should also be improved. However, he felt that although his Qi was powerful enough, he could not go further and breakthrough to the Primordial Qi Establishment Realm, no matter how hard he diligently practiced. He quickly recalled his practice from the last five days and analyzed it again and again. He gradually became aware of certain things he had missed before. It seemed that it was not because of the endless practice for five days, but it was because he was too obsessive.
The problem should really be in these words, that ‘doing too much is just as bad as doing too little’.
An electrical shock-like feeling flashed in his mind for the first time. Zhang Yan suddenly realized that the puzzle that was occupying his mind these days completely vanished in a flash. He loudly laughed, “So that’s how it is!”
He quickly turned around and bowed down to the nun’s direction in the distance.
Although every cultivator was aware and realized the hierarchy and key characteristics of each realm… There was, however, always dark and unknown traps lurking in every step one took forward.
For example, the step to build one’s own cultivation foundation was divided into two realms. One was the Qi Condensing Realm, and the other was Qi Establishment Realm. However, these two realms were in fact, a part of one true realm that was ‘Quenching the Primordial Qi and how to make it grow’.
After one successfully condensed his Primordial Qi and germinated his spiritual force, one should want to step further into the truest essence. Which did not lie in the amount and how powerful a Qi one must have, but rather, it relied on how pure one’s Qi was…
For those who didn’t understand the enlightenment like this, it would take several tens of years of practicing for them to finally condense their Qi. The premise of why they could even condense then is due to the disappearance of their Qi’s impurity and also because they could calmly control their emotions by then. These conditions would focus their Qi into one and let them break through to the Primordial Qi Establishment Realm. Of which, would become the foundation to open their immortal meridian.
However, this approach would certainly waste more time. With this point in mind, the disciples who already comprehended the correct method should advance much further than those who had no knowledge about it. One must know that after opening the meridians, the method and laws used to cultivate would differ greatly than the previous cultivation method and laws. The height and depth between these realms were truly a completely different level and they could not be compared. Every step one took would significantly have been slowed down. If one didn’t have a heavenly opportunity or a superior intelligence, hoping to catch up to those who were already in the next realm would only be a broken dream.
Aside from cultivators of the ancient families, there was no other possibility, that anyone would know about these matters.
The method of ‘Quenching Primordial Qi and cultivating Spiritual Force’ was only secretly passed down in private between the Masters and their disciples. Most masters directly passed on the method to their disciples via the oral tradition, and never wrote it in any manuscripts. Even if there was such a manual, it should have been destroyed by those ancient families since thousands of years ago, or they were being stored in their vaults now.
These acts were deliberately done with tacit understanding for control and understanding between those ancient families.
Thus, various ancient families could monopolize and control the circulation of all Dao manuals in their respective Sects and Schools.
In fact, the ancient families’ hands and feet stretched far in this aspect of control. If one did not have the origin of an ancient family, their cultivation would surely be treading on thin ice. And once they took a wrong step, they would no longer be able to turn back and would drown.
With his previous life’s sophisticated way of thinking, Zhang Yan could faintly guess the whole story in the correct direction after analyzing it.
That Daoist nun should have obviously been aware of his cultivation state, although she didn’t directly speak about it. She reminded him with a literary reference. Although he didn’t know why she did that, Zhang Yan noted this favor from her.
Zhang Yan may perhaps know nothing about cultivating or controlling his emotional state, but he had read many profound texts in the past. He could generally deduce any problem with the littlest of hints. He already had some ideas in mind, as well as the confidence of the jade’s function in his hands. As long as he knew about the cause, he could always figure out the correct method with repeated attempts through trial and error.
When he thought about this, he couldn’t wait to find a quiet place to immediately enter meditation. Just when he was about to try to find a place, he looked back and was surprised, as his eyes saw a familiar figure enter his sight.
Ai Zhongwen was walking in anger on the mountain road. When he raised his head, he accidentally saw Zhang Yan. His complexion then instantly turned bright, and a delighted look could be seen on his face. He hurriedly walked toward Zhang Yan and greeted him, “Senior Brother Zhang Yan, have you been here for long? Have you heard about that Mo Yuan that has blocked the passageway?”
Zhang Yan was puzzled, “Senior Brother Ai, what happened?”
Seeing that Zhang Yan didn’t know about the incident, Ai Zhongwen sighed, “Oh… it’s a long story. Senior Brother Zhang Yan please follow me, you can listen slowly as I tell you about what happened.”
As they walked forward, it took about a thousand steps before Ai Zhongwen finished telling the whole story to Zhang Yan.
However, Zhang Yan was not interested in Mo Yuan; he was rather interested in Chen Feng instead.
“Senior Brother Ai, you said that Senior Brother Chen had just left after showing his invincible might in this grand event while I was closed up and practicing? And he actually just came out from his closed door training and has successfully opened his immortal meridian?”
Ai Zhongwen’s eyes revealed a deep admiration as he replied to Zhang Yan, “Exactly.” Although Ai Zhongwen criticized Chen Feng for instigating this incident and making the two Sect’s disciples retaliate, blocking all disciples from the two sects by himself without losing, really made Ai Zhongwen admire Chen Feng.
Zhang Yan’s eyes flashed. He could faintly grasp the whole story. “And now there are only 16 sect disciples on the top of the peak?”
Ai Zhongwen shook his head, “Our Blue Ocean Sect is the host for this event. There is no disciple who can stand up to guard our Sects’ reputation. And right now, they don’t even seem to respond to those two Sects’ disciple’s challenge and are just waiting to see the situation unfold. The Vast Origin Sect and the Great Southern Sect’s disciples have already arrived at the mountain foot. If this is the case, they should also probably arrive at the peak by today.”
At this time, he looked up and said, “Finally…”
Zhang Yan also looked up, not far from their location there were three stone platforms. Of which could hold hundreds of people on top of it. On the highest platform, a red copper incense burner was emitting curls of green smoke upwards, as a grand and marvelous building was built half embedded into the mountain walls. There were more than hundreds of the three great school’s disciples gathered there. The scene was very quiet now.
Coincidentally, since the early morning, the disciples that had already arrived at this stone platform had the same expression. Their eyes tightly locked onto the field with their hands tightly clenched. Their tense and anxious looks could be seen clearly on their faces.
Zhang Yan and Ai Zhongwen walked directly onto the stone platform. They could see before them that in the middle platform, there were two people sitting down and facing each other. A middle-aged man wearing a Daoist robe was using a bamboo token and carefully deducing the eclipse codes. Cold sweat slightly flowed down from his forehead.
Ai Zhongwen whispered, “This is Senior Brother Cheng from the Great Tranquility Temple. Although he’s only a novice disciple, his Cheng Family is quite famous and prosperous. He also excels in deciphering the Eclipse codes.”
On the opposite sat a youth, presumably, that was Mo Yuan. He was probably a 13/14-year-old boy. He bit a feather pen in his lips and seemed faintly unenthusiastic with an expression full of arrogance.
These two people’s eyes had good eyesight. They could see the eclipse codes written on the page clearly. Zhang Yan who was looking at the fragmented bamboo token in Mo Yuan hands couldn’t help but smile.
As Ai Zhongwen carefully observed them, he frowned, “Ah, It’s not good!”
Sure enough, after a little while, the middle-aged Daoist’s complexion looked stumped and dejected. He pushed the plate into the midair, shook his head and sighed, “Junior Brother is really brilliant, this Senior Brother admits defeat.”
The moment he spoke these words and left, Min Lou, who was beside, him stomped his foot, as if he was the one that had lost.
Mo Yuan’s snorted and sneered, “The Blue Ocean Sect is really mediocre!”
His blatant contempt and despicable words made the entire Blue Ocean Sect disciples feel ashamed. Their complexion suddenly darkened and anger was clearly drawn on their faces.
Since this Senior Brother Cheng had thrown in the towel, he naturally said nothing, as to avoid bringing disgrace to himself again. He removed a small bag and threw it toward the teenager, as he then cupped his hand and left the platform with a dejected face.
Zhang Yan was puzzled, “What’s the meaning of that?”
Ai Zhongwen explained, “It’s Moonriver Sand, one of the five elements of divine sand. That Mo Yuan came alone, and as he feared that he would be ganged up by numerous disciples to fight him, he set a bet; as long as the one who comes forward was not an outer disciple, no matter who they are, they must place half a kg of Moonriver Sand as a bet.”
Moonriver Sand is one of the five elements of divine sand. It could only be acquired in the rapid water streams of a river. It originally came from a rare precious stone crevice of which could only be found in the Blue Ocean Sect’s territory. Zhang Yan secretly mused that this Mo Yuan was really smart and calculated it thoroughly. Not only did he block various disciples from climbing up, he also benefited and gained small profits from this contention.
And judging from the 5 small bags piling up on the table, this Mo Yuan had at least won five times already.
Then, several people should have gone on stage and got defeated without an exception.
Ai Zhongwen sighed, “Luckily, I’m not one of those people.”
Min Lou in the crowd stomped his foot angrily, “Don’t mention those outer and inner disciples ladies and gentlemen here. If Junior Brother Zhang Yan was here, he could beat this teenager surely!” Although Min Lou’s ancestor was once a supreme cultivator, his current family had long been in decline since years ago. Those elite outer and inner disciples didn’t think highly about Min Lou, much less Zhang Yan who had an unknown background.
Those words awoke the depressed and frustrated disciples here as if they were being reminded that there was still a lifeline for them. Whether or not they knew about Zhang Yan, these people unconsciously nodded their heads. They really couldn’t bear the mockeries and despising words from Mo Yuan toward the Blue Ocean Sect again.
When Mo Yuan heard their shouts his eyebrows twitched and he sneered, “What? Does this Senior Brother Zhang Yang dare to come out and step forward?”
Ai Zhongwen who previously stood motionless beside Zhang Yan suddenly looked at Zhang Yan’s face, his eyes showed a little bit of expectation.
His hope quickly vanished in an instant.
Zhang Yan was not only not stepping forward, but he instead gave a wink to Ai Zhongwen and quickly turned away and left the platform.
Ai Zhongwen was stunned and dazed. He hesitated for a moment and then quickly walked and caught up to Zhang Yan.
After walking several hundred steps, Zhang Yan suddenly stopped, turned his head and smiled, “Senior Brother Ai, do you think that this Zhang Yan retreated because of fear?”
Ai Zhongwen reluctantly smiled, “Senior Brother Zhang’s actions must have some profound intention.”
Zhang Yan let out a smile, “Actually, winning against Mo Yuan is easy.”
“Oh?” Ai Zhongwen gawked.
Zhang Yan confidently smiled and continued, “It’s not that I’m boasting and only talking big. I have observed this Mo Yuan carefully. Although he is quite skilled in deciphering the Eclipse codes, however, every time he faces difficult problems. He always uses his bamboo token to deduce the codes. Looking at this aspect only, he is far inferior to me.”
Ai Zhongwen couldn’t help but subconsciously nod; he didn’t deny it. Zhang Yan had never used a bamboo token every time he interpreted the Eclipse codes. This point showed that he didn’t back out because he felt inferior to Mo Yuan. Which disciple in the Three Great Schools dared say that they could do it like Zhang Yan? But, as the matter stands, Ai Zhongwen was absolutely clueless about Zhang Yan’s ability. Why wouldn’t he step forward then? Could it be there was something that prevented him from doing so?
“Senior Brother Ai, would you believe it if I said I had a better idea to reverse the situation?” Zhang Yan faintly smiled before continuing, “Senior Brother, if I were to step forward on that platform, even if I were to win against Mo Yuan, I would only be the target of mockery and laughter. Not to mention those elite senior brothers would absolutely hate me to the bone. Instead of gaining fame and reputation, I may lose my life there.”
Ai Zhongwen was instantly startled. He immediately thought carefully and he had to admit that Zhang Yan was absolutely right!
All the disciples from the three temples were blocked at the mountain foot. If eventually, a novice disciple could win the challenge, then what would people think about those elite outer and inner disciples? Although the real situation might be different, as long as rumors started to spread out, it would be equal to sweeping those disciples’ reputation as well as their family’s reputation. Stepping forward in that situation would not give any benefits, but would only result in garnering hatred and jealousy from those people.
Ai Zhongwen immediately cupped his hand and apologized, “Senior Brother Zhang, please blame me in not figuring out this matter with a clear mind.”
He recalled Hu Shengyu’s gloomy and ferocious expression back in the hall. He was about to remind Zhang Yan to be careful about this matter, Zhang Yan suddenly changed the subject, “However, since I’m also a disciple from the Blue Ocean Sect, I cannot sit idly when seeing those outsiders recklessly humiliating us!”
Ai Zhongwen spirit instantly skyrocketed as he heard these words. “What do you intend to do brother?”
Zhang Yan faintly smiled, “Since those Vast Origin Sect’s disciples had blocked the passageway, why can’t we do the same?”
“Brother Zhang, you mean…” Ai Zhongwen’s eyes turned wide as he stared at Zhang Yan and looked slightly excited. His mind was full of infinite thoughts about what Zhang Yan would do, but he couldn’t describe it clearly. Thoughts were being bred endlessly, but still, he couldn’t let it out of his mouth.
“I heard Senior Brother Chen Feng had stopped the disciples from those two sects alone and nobody was able to climb up to the mountain peak.” Zhang Yan greatly wanted to follow Chen Feng’s footprints. If they could block his fellow disciples, then he would also do the same. Zhang Yan quickly turned toward Ai Zhongwen. As his eyes flashed with an indescribable aura, he said, “Senior Brother Ai, do you dare to go together with me?”