IAT CH5

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Immortal Ascension Tower

Book 1: Reborn

First Arc: The Child And The Dragon

Chapter 5 – Twin Stars

As the sun had just fallen beyond the horizon and the sky had began to darken, Cheng Hao finally stepped out the Teleportation Hexagram. Sparing a glance at his surroundings, he found himself in a vast courtyard. It was located between the Sixth and Seventh Layers of the walls, which were a few miles apart from each other. Off in the distance were many small huts, each occupying a small area of a few meters in both width and length. A few steps away from the now faded Teleportation Hexagram, an old man with white hair sat on a chair, with his arms crossed in front of his chest and his head bent forward.

In front of the old man was a small desk, much like the Vacant Elder that Cheng Hao had met before when he was travelling together with Liu Biao. He wore a set of simple and even somewhat worn down robes, which Cheng Hao recognized were neither the Sect’s Elder nor Disciple robes. The child pondered for a while, and came to the conclusion that this person was probably some sort of groundkeeper or caretaker for the Vacant Sect, seeing how behind him was small carts full of black robes and hundreds if not thousands of keys hang from one of its sides. Feeling the presence of another person, the old man raised his head to look back at the staring child. As the figure of the youngster was registered in his golden colored eyes, a hint of surprise at the boy’s young age flashed by the old man’s pupils and the face full of wrinkles arranged into a thoughtful frown.

Cheng Hao’s eyes gleamed and he started to walk towards the stall the man owned and bowed as soon as he neared: the man purposefully hid his cultivation to others so very few people would know, but he was actually a peak Reverend stage expert! Liu Biao’s Advanced stage? Even if a hundred, no, a thousand of Liu Biao were to come charging forward, a single wave of the ordinary-looking old man’s sleeve would be able to blast them all away! He could escape other people’s eyes, but how could Cheng Hao possibly be fooled by such trickery? As for why such a powerful person acted as a mere groundkeeper… the child had no idea. Still he had no intentions of prying further. Instead, he chose to let his tongue, vocal chords and skills in the art of flattery do the work! Although in higher planes of existence, Mortal Realm cultivators such as Liu Biao and this old man would be the trashiest amongst trash, in a lowly plane of existence such as the one Cheng Hao currently found himself in, the a Reverend stage was most likely the very peak of existence! Therefore, befriending such a cultivator was bound to bring him benefits later on!

“This Junior is called Cheng Hao! Junior offers his respects to his elder!” He respectfully exclaimed, his tone fawning but not to the point it reached the extreme flattering he had shown towards the arrogant Liu Biao. Instead, he made himself look like an honest child full of respect towards the older generation.

As the child spoke, the old man was baffled: very few people would be polite to him, since at the moment, his identity was that of a ‘weak and poor old man’, as it could be discerned by the ragged robes he was wearing. Most would treat him as nothing more than a delivery man, urging him to hand over the sect robes in a rather rude manner. They would barely spare him an annoyed glance, before hurrying away soon after.

Few, very few would ever show such respect to him. The only reasons one would do that were two: it was either that their nature was that of a very polite person… or if those who attempted to flatter him to gain favors off of him! One of the reason the old man was keeping such a low profile was exactly because he despised the latter kind of people the most, so he had chosen to hide his real power. But… a child so young, would his parents even have enough time to impart him with such a great amount of politeness towards the older generation? Or could it be that… his real strength had just got seen through by a child?

The old man’s former nonchalant expression turned serious, and he acted fast. He slightly lifted the seal on his cultivation enough for him to be able to send a strand of Reverend Will towards the young boy! Seeing the old man’s actions, Cheng Hao laughed in his mind but kept his outward expression as still as a pond of clear water, devoid of the slightest ripple. He completely ignored the Strand: had he reacted to the Strand in any way, such as resisting or even acknowledging with even a slight change in his heart rate, the old man would have definitely found out that he had actually seen through his real cultivation! What would that mean? It would mean that a young child had been able to see through the ability of a Reverend stage cultivator! It would bring countless problems to himself together with the off chance of offending that same cultivator!

A Strand of Will was a strand of spiritual energy containing one’s consciousness. Being in the Reverend stage, only those on the same stage or above should be able to sense it. Of course, a few exceptions could be found everywhere, but for a child so small to be able to see through the power of a man having a cultivation of the Reverend stage… it was just unthinkable! For that reason, seeing no reaction from the boy in front of him after checking out once, the old man did not even bother trying it out again. Instead, he smiled kindly as he felt his heart warm.

Such a polite young boy…

Being fooled by Cheng Hao’s methods, in his heart the old man thought of Cheng Hao as an exemplary child!

The child’s expression suddenly shifted as he inquired, “Is Elder alright? Why did Elder’s expression suddenly turn dark? Did this Junior offend you in any way? If so this Junior would gladly amend, even if it means risking his life!” Cheng Hao immediately kneeled: he was clearly ‘worried’, but at the same time ‘determinate’ to carry his burdens and pay off his debts.

The old man’s heart warmed seeing such dedication and respect towards the older generation. He quickly got up and walked to the boy’s side, then helped the young man to his feet. Having done that, he reprimanded him with a severe, but at the same time kind tone, “Boy, men have gold under their knees. One shouldn’t kneel lightly, but only to their parents and to their master! And also, do not worry. You have done nothing wrong, it was this old man who had suddenly remembered something unpleasant…”

Seeing that his attempt at deception had worked, Cheng Hao couldn’t help but smile in his mind. The snake hiding in his pocket also sighed with feeling. “Why are all cultivators in this plane of existence so easy to fool…”

The old man, of course, couldn’t be aware of either of the things, and his good impression towards Cheng Hao kept getting better.

“Young child, you said your name was… Cheng Hao?” he inquired. Seeing that the child nodded, the old man smiled dismissively, “You do not have to call me elder, boy. For starters, I am no Elder. I am just an old man, and everyone simply calls me Old Lao, why should you not?” The old man chuckled.

“Junior Cheng Hao believes that respect towards the older generation should be given unconditionally from Elder’s identity! What’s more…” the child trailed off, as if he was pondering whether he should continue. Seeing that the old man nodded amiably, the child ‘beamed’. “Also… I also have a strong feeling! It’s there’s more than it meets the eye to elder’s strength!”

At that, Old Lao shuddered as he fell into contemplation.

So this is why. But to know of my strength, could this young boy possibly be connected to me by karma? But how, how is he connected to me? In this place, nobody should… especially a simple human! Or could it be a sign? Could he be the one?

The old man looked at Cheng Hao again, seemingly pained by an internal conflict, but in the end decided to wait a bit before making his decision. He coughed once to clear his voice, smiled, and then began to speak. “Well, Junior Cheng Hao, I formally congratulate you on joining the Mysterious Light-Shadow Sect! Unfortunately, this is but the beginning! You joined the Sect, sure, but you are now only a Vacant Disciple, even lower than Outer Sect disciples! Every year, there will be a contest between disciples to enter the outer sect. Fortunately for you, it will be in just a month from now! Seeing that you cleared the trial, your strength must be more than it meets the eye, so you might just be able to use that chance to ‘level up’!” Old Lao explained.

At the man’s words, Cheng Hao first feigned happiness, then confusion, then anxiety and then happiness again. Of course, nothing the old man told him was news to him: he had already thoroughly investigated many of the details regarding the Sect he had chose to join beforehand, during his travels. However, the old man could not read his mind, and truly believed the expression the child was showing were genuine. The old man nodded and resumed his explanation.

“Youth, remember these few rules that I’m about to tell you! While the castle housing our sect is enormous, you can only go to certain places: a Vacant Disciple can freely walk inside the area located between the Seventh and Sixth Wall. This area is also referred to as the Sixth Ring, and you are free to explore it as you wish, but you can’t go any further than the Sixth Wall. Penalty: Decapitation! There are very few resources and cultivation techniques that you can acquire with your current status, so I suggest you climb higher as quickly as you can!”

Cheng Hao nodded, but in his head he was rolling his eyes.

No shit buddy! I was just planning on staying here and feed on dog crap even though there is an all-you-can-eat banquet right there! Just get on with it, my legs hurt!

The old man opened his mouth and spoke once again. “Unlike a Vacant Disciple, an Outer Disciple can go anywhere in between the Seventh and Fifth Wall, and can freely explore both the Sixth and Fifth Rings, but not any deeper. Penalty: sealing one’s connection with the heavens and the earth, thus loss of cultivation. A higher tier of resources and techniques are acquirable here, as well as the possibility to form and join an Alliance. You should be able to find out more about this later.”

“An Inner Disciple can go anywhere from the Sixth to the Fourth Rings. The penalty from going any deeper is the inability to cultivate for ten to twenty years. With the status of an Inner Disciple, even better resources can be acquired, and the first few martial skills can be found and cultivated here! Even higher status than Inner Disciples are Core Disciples! They can roam pretty much anywhere in the castle, except for the First and Second Rings which are reserved solely for Elders and the leading positions. Inner and Core Disciples can also search for a master to get them under his wing…” At that, the old man’s eyes gleamed strangely as he looked at Cheng Hao.

“Finally, we have reached the highest status that a disciple can reach! The two Twin Star Disciples!” The old man’s expression turned serious. “They can only be two, the Light star and the Shadow star, and have never appeared in the whole history of the Sect except once, around seven hundred years ago, since the requirements are incredibly strict! The two must have both joined the Sect before their tenth birthday, must have reached the Superior stage before their fifteenth and must be able to stand on equal ground as a Core Elder of the peak Sung stage before their seventeenth. In the sect, as of now, there are no Twin Star disciples.”

At that even Cheng Hao frowned: Superior stage before one’s fifteenth birthday? Be a match to a peak Sung stage cultivator by seventeen years old? Plus, they had to have roughly the same age? If it were him, Cheng Hao could probably achieve both without too much for a problem, but his situation was special. If others were to try their hands at it… it would already be great if they could appear even once every few thousand years!

These requirements are way too strict! No shit they have only appeared once! What kind of madman would impose such conditions?

“But,” the old man continued as he waved his hands excitedly, “The benefits are worth the efforts! Assistance from the school for even the most trivial of things, unlimited resources from the school treasury, being able to explore the castle and its secrets to its outmost and even the right to accept one of the top two School Protectors, who rank only below the Sect Head in both status and strength, as a personal Master! Once both Twin Stars reach thirty-three years of age, they shall duel: the victor shall become the Sect Head, while the loser would take up the spot as the Sect’s First ranked Protector! In short, as long as one successfully becomes a Twin Star, his future is bound to be full of nothing but success and excellence!”

 

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Here they are!!! The Twin Stars that also appeared in the summary! And also a convenient explanation of the sect’s hierarchy that was totally not ripped off other Xianxias or only used to lengthen the chapter!

And also, as many Xianxia and Xuanhuan veterans should know, ‘random old men’ are either incredibly shrewd or incredibly powerful so no surprise it is the same here! One more chap, and that’ll be all for today!

~ Cookie

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