Immortal Ascension Tower
Book 1: Reborn
First Arc: The Child And The Dragon
Chapter 7 – Third Protector Lao Jianghu
Later that night, the figure of the old man appeared once again. With a sigh, he let himself fall back on a chair at the side of a big, round table. Although the round table should have symbolized fairness and equality, his chair was much, much more refined and of higher quality than the other people’s seats, thoroughly shattering that image.
“And that is why I am focusing on helping the talented fighters instead of less talented ones! I mean, wouldn’t that help us grow quicker? If we focus only on increasing our overall power, we’ll end up not having a single powerhouse capable of turning the sides of the battle! And we must also remember that young Zhao Bu is growing stronger at an extremely rapid pace! If we do not act fast, in a few years…” A hot debate was taking place in the room.
The person arguing was standing up, on his white elder robe there where 4 black stripes went from the left shoulder to the right ankle, meaning he was a Core Elder! He was one of the highest ranked beings in the Sect! And yet, once this Elder finally noticed the presence of the newly arrived old man wearing worn-out robes, he couldn’t help but immediately shut his mouth and bow.
“Third Protector Lao Jianghu! We are happy to see you are in good health! What brings you here today, to listen to our worthless chatting? Or has something happened in the Sect that we are not aware of?” The man cupped his hands and respectfully bowed to the old man.
Lao Jianghu stroked his long beard and he smiled genuinely. “Eheheh, relax, Bi Liang. It’s nothing of the such… This old man came here because he was in quite the good mood today… and wished to share some good news with you.”
At those words, the faces of every single person in the room lit up: good news? How long has it been since they’ve heard that term?
The Elder named Bi Liang couldn’t help but enthusiastically ask, “Senior Jianghu, could it be… A good disciple has actually come into our school and is willing to join our faction? Were we able to reel another Protector to our cause? Or did we successfully ally with an outsider Clan? Please, Protector, tell us!”
Lao Jianghu leaned back into his chair and muttered “Unfortunately, all of the above are incorrect. However, I’ll just lave these few words here as a food for thoughts…” The old man’s golden eyes twinkled with amusement. “Passed the entrance exam at eight years old…”
At that, the face of the Core Elders couldn’t help but change. At first, his expression was pleasantly surprised, but it soon turned disappointed. Tai Fu, another Core Elder hesitated, but still chose to spoke out the thought that had flashed across every person in the room, “Elder Lao, eight years old is a bit too young. I find that it might just be that this person simply used some…” He scratched his neck “Special methods to–” The man’s words were immediately swallowed back down as Lao Jianghu raised his hand to interrupt him.
Almost as if he had been waiting exactly for this, the old man had smiled again and shaken his head. With a slight chuckle, he stroked his long beard twice before adding, “Not ‘this person’. It’s ‘these people’. Eheheh, it’s plural, not singular. There are two of them. What’s more, both of their bodies show no trace of having consumed elixirs or strength enhancing pills. I believe…” The old man lowered his voice, but for some mysterious reason, it could still be heard clearly regardless, as if he were speaking in everyone’s mind rather than with his mouth. “That Twin Stars have finally appeared in the dark and tumultuous sky that is our Mysterious Light-Shadow Sect.”
As soon as they heard this, every single person in the small room stood up.
“Twin Stars??? The legendary Twin Stars???”
“What? Have they really appeared? Hasn’t it been more than five hundred year? I thought they were a myth!”
“Is this for real? Our Sect was actually blessed like so? Why are we even fighting with those two old crooks? Shouldn’t we be having a feast instead?”
Everyone was excited, doubtful and hopeful at the same time. However, the information was reliable. After all, it had come out of the mouth of none other than the Sect’s very Third Protector, Lao Jianghu himself! As such, some couldn’t help but shout and yell, letting out all the feelings they had bottled inside themselves for so long. Some even went as far as fiercely rotating their cultivation base and strong wind currents sent all the papers on the round table flying through the air: they would not let paperwork hinder this happy moment!
“Everybody, you are esteemed Core Elders, please, show some respect towards Third Protector Lao and tone down a bit!” The Core Elder that had been speaking earlier, Core Elder Bi Liang, tried to stop the cheering, but his efforts were all to no avail. As he looked towards Lao Jianghu and bowed slightly in apology, he could only sigh as he, like the others, was also extremely happy and allowed himself to also smile.
Indeed, fortune had truly struck them big!
That room was actually what seemed to be a worn-out warehouse in the middle of a vast courtyard: two tall walls could be seen in both directions, north and south, and they were so tall they either seemed to be the waves of a tsunami, ready to rain havoc amongst the lands, or they looked like tall mountains, rising to touch the sky. At the moment, Lao Jianghu was standing on top of one of these tall walls. His gaze was lost in the multitudes of small houses and huts that were built in the castle, seemingly searching for someone in the distance.
Creak: the door of the warehouse opened for a brief time before closing again. The Core Elder that had been trying to calm the situation earlier stepped out from the madness that was taking place inside the room and allowed himself a chance to take a breather. When he noticed the old man standing on top of the tall walls, he smiled and kicked off the ground: he flew like an arrow, whistling through the air and soon landed next to the older man.
The Core Elder patted away some dust off his robes and then asked at once, his heart throbbing. “Third Protector… Is this information truly worthy of our trust?”
Lao Jianghu smiled, warmth clear on his face, and nodded. “I verified personally. What’s more, they are both so cute and polite… It truly makes one’s heart warm! Ahem, anyways! How long have you been following me for, Bi Liang?”
“Thirty years, Protector,” the man answered. Sadness flashed through Bi Liang’s eyes but he hid it very deeply.
The old man nodded and then said, “I’ve got my eyes on one of the two kids. It looks like he’s somehow connected to me through karma and he seems both incredibly sharp as well as polite… In short, he is a perfect disciple for an old man like me to pass down my knowledge to!” Lao Jianghu closed his eyes and sighed. “I have to give it my best, just like him, and become the Top Protector, so that I can accept him as a personal disciple when the time is ripe. But to do that, I have to go into seclusion and perform closed-door training, and I won’t be able to come out any time soon. Even though I hid my strength, those two old monsters might have done so as well… It has been ten years, who knows what trick they might have up their sleeve?”
Lao Jianghu opened his mouth to talk, but hesitated. Finally, he spoke with a probing tone, “Bi Liang, I have always thought of you as my son, and now you might soon have a younger brother to care for. What I want to ask of you… Is that really fine with you? It would mean I’d have to divide my attention between the two of you…”
Hearing Lao Jianghu’s question, Bi Liang’s face immediately brightened, his expression turning happy as he immediately nodded. “Please, Protector! No, Father! Tell me where I can find this new younger brother!” Was the Core Elder acting? No, Bi Liang was truly happy: he had been raised as an orphan and was picked up at the tender age of twelve by the already aged Lao Jianghu, who raised him just like a true son.
Bi Liang was a brown-eyed, and blond-haired man in his late thirties. His appearance was quite average, but having become a Core Elder at such a young age, there was clearly more to him than it met the eye!
He had become a Core Disciple at the young age of nineteen, and subsequently gained the status of an Elder at twenty-nine, as per the Sect Rules. Now, he has been a Core Elder for almost eleven years, and he was currently thirty-nine years old. All this time, the only person that he had ever considered a family had been his adoptive father, Lao Jianghu… To now have a brother, it was clear he was both happy and excited! In fact, he would do anything in his power to help and protect him!
The old man’s eyes lit up as his gaze landed on a group of huts far away into the distance. “Looking from up here, I think you will probably soon find out… About now…”
From the Outer Sect that housed hundreds of thousands if not millions of disciples, things such as Qi Sensing Apparitions were as common as fishes in the sea. This occurred once one stepped into the Inferior stage, the very first stage on the path to cultivation. Occasionally, there would be small columns of light emerging from the huts, however they’d usually stop at a height of thirty or so feet. The occasional genius might be able to surpass the hundred-foot mark, while an exceptional, heaven-defying monster might even reach the thousand-foot mark.
Suddenly, from a small hut off in the distance… a pillar of energy emerged sending the nearby clouds in disarray! Under the shocked eyes of Bi Liang, the pillar blasted through the thirty-foot mark, tore through the hundred feet, surpassed the thousand feet… and shot into the night sky, transcending the ten thousand feet! This pillar emitted a mixture of black, white and purple light and could be seen with the naked eye even from such a long distance away!
Bi Liang was shocked: that was without a hint of doubt a Qi Sensing Apparition, but how in the world was it so big? Let alone geniuses or monsters, what kind of being could possibly pierce the heavens with such an apparition by simply stepping into the Inferior stage? Even Bi Liang, who had been renowned as a genius when he stepped into the Inferior stage at thirteen, had only managed to just barely graze the thousand-foot mark!
That kind of power was something that he could never expect from a Vacant Disciple, let alone, from what he understood from his master, an eight-year old boy! It was as if a million years old devil had reincarnated and used his lifetime of knowledge to eradicate the common sense of mortals!
Bi Liang gaped and then excitedly spoke, “This is… A great understanding of the Spiritual Energy! Enlightenment over the Qi that borders on the legendary Dao Enlightenment!!! Only such an understanding of the Sensed Qi would allow such an overbearing Apparition to appear!”
Lao Jianghu suddenly frowned, as if he had eaten something sour. He then relaxed, laughed and exclaimed with a bashful smile. “Oh, this was actually the other kid… Ahem, not bad, not bad. But I expect the one I have chosen to do better! Here comes… the real deal!”
Bi Liang widened his eyes: do even better? How could one possibly do even better? His thoughts were interrupted as, indeed, a second pillar appeared!
Another pillar of light, this time a completely golden pillar, extremely dazzling and blinding to the sight, rose beside the first black pillar!
In the blink of an eye, it surpassed the thirty feet!
In a fraction of a breath, it eclipsed the hundred feet!
In a breath, it demolished the thousand feet!
In two breaths, it annihilated the ten thousand-foot mark!
In three breaths… it came to a stop at the same height as the purplish pillar. The golden pillar undulated slightly, as if it had met with some kind of barrier, preventing it from going any higher… The pillar trembled, as if enraged, before blazing with even brighter golden light. It almost seemed to say, “Fine! If I cannot not go any higher vertically… I shall expand horizontally!” Before suddenly blasting outwards! The radius of the pillar increased tenfold, to the point a faint outline of a mountain peak appeared within the golden light!
Bi Liang had long since dislocated his jaw and his eyes were even wider than tennis balls. His appearance was truly comical, and had Lao Jianghu been his normal self he would have definitely teased him for it. However, the old man was in a pretty similar situation, the only difference that his reaction had happened in his mind and had not shown on his body. Lao Jianghu coughed once, twice, thrice, yet was still unable to regain his composure. Only after he stroked the long white beard for a while did he recover. “Ahem, I think… you may have quite some trouble in your hands with those two kids… But now at least, you will have two younger brothers! You will soon find out that having a brother is not always so easy!” With that, Lao Jianghu left, leaving behind a still wide-eyed and absolutely shocked Bi Liang.
As the old man flew through the air, he muttered to himself. “They must be two. Two friends, two comrades, two rivals, to help each other, to support each other, and to surpass each other, until they both reach the pinnacle! One must rely on themselves on the road to immortality and cultivation… This does not mean though, that they cannot receive help from external resources, for one’s connections and luck are still part of one’s power! Two beings completely compatible and at the same time completely different, yet still the closest of brothers… That is the true meaning of Twin Stars!”
Lao Jianghu sighed, “Next time you decide to do something so attention-catching, warn me first though. I’ll probably have to spend the whole night to block the rumors from reaching those two old geezers’ ears. Sigh, it will be a difficult and arduous job…” The old man was on the verge of tears. “Having a brother is not always so easy? Heck, think about your old grandpa here who has to work his ass of for you two! This little stunt of yours is going to cost me at least two nights’ worth of sleep!”
The old man sighed and disappeared into the darkness of a moonless night sky.
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Author’s Note: in this story, I am referring to Karma as some sort of connection between people, object and places. Previously, it was mentioned that Heavenly Beasts couldn’t be seen or heard unless one has ‘sewn Karma’ / ‘is connected through Karma’ with them. More accurately, this applies to species that are not Heavenly Beasts. Heavenly Beasts can see other Heavenly Beasts just fine, as simply being of the same race is enough for Karma to be present.
Ways to sew Karma mainly include, but are not limited to, making actions that directly affect another person/object/place. Karma can be passed down through one’s lineage and won’t dissipate unless certain conditions are met or a very long time passes.