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Chapter 14

(T/N: huhu… I’m sorrrrrrrry…. I made the mistake of translating Master Tan’s name as Master Tang and Xiya Tower’s name as Westya Lou because I’m so tired that I didn’t read properly what I typed. Huhu… Anyway, I did some fixing in the previous chapter…)

Regardless of the origins and purpose of Xiya Tower’s visit to Kunwu, since it is the esteemed Master Tan who has come, everyone in Kunwu must naturally come out to pay their respects.

The main hall of Taiqing Peak was bustling with activity. The peak masters and elders from the five peaks occupied half of the hall, while the other half was filled with neatly arranged personal disciples.

“No way, no way, no way! Is Second Senior Sister really not coming to such an event?” The fair-skinned young man spoke in a low voice, his tone dripping with sarcasm, as he leaned in close to Yu Si: “Isn’t she curious to see what this Sage of Elixirs looks like?”

Before Yu Si could respond, the slouching young man, who lacked any semblance of proper posture, shifted his gaze to the delicate girl standing behind Master Huaiwei and scoffed, “Tsk… She openly called our master’s wife ‘godmother.’ I’d respect her for being “sensible” .We’re all fellow disciples; why is she acting special?”

“Yi Zui.”

Yu Si shot a warning glance at the boy, who was a head shorter than him. Although Yi Zui’s sharp tongue was aimed at everyone indiscriminately, he clearly respected this senior brother and fell silent at once.

“Your Second Senior Sister…”

Yu Si rarely showed a hint of frustration; clearly exasperated by the situation, ” she took on a mission from Ziyuan Peak and went down the mountain.”

Third Junior Brother Yi, who appeared taken aback as if he had seen a ghost, struggled for a moment before blurting out, “Is she… going to get herself killed?”

Yu Si: …

Yi Zui had entered the sect a year later than Yu Si and Yu Xizhi, and given his extraordinarily unique background, no one in Kunwu dared to reprimand him. He was treated with the utmost indulgence in Baiyu Pavilion, leading to some arrogance.

This third junior brother appeared as a proper and handsome young man when silent, seemingly the bright future of Kunwu Mountain Sect. But once he spoke, his words were biting and sarcastic, devastatingly so, leaving no one unscathed.

Though Yu Si was displeased by his sister being spoken of this way, he had to admit that the thought did cross his mind upon hearing the news.

“Just a few days ago, she was still learning swordsmanship from me.”

Yu Si fell silent for a moment, feeling obliged to defend Yu Xizhi’s honor.

The sight of her during that session had given him some reassurance.

“She’s not entirely without means to defend herself. I asked Shen Ye, and she took on the simplest demon-extermination task. Even someone at the late stage of the Enlightenment Realm can handle it. She’s at least in the Qi refining stage; she should manage… I hope.”

(T/N: a stage before Qi refining.)

“Swordsmanship? What swordsmanship? The Qingfeng Liuyun Sword?” Yi Zui instinctively mocked, then saw Yu Si’s expression stiffen slightly.

Realizing something, he gasped, “No way, is it really that one?”

The two brothers exchanged looks, both at a loss for words. However, Kunwu’s rules were clear: unless aid was requested, no one was allowed to inquire about mission details or offer unsolicited help. Despite his worries, Yu Si could only swallow them.

After all, it shouldn’t pose any major problems. Each mission token in Kunwu Mountain Sect contained two teleportation talismans: one for getting to the mission site and one for returning. If things went south, crushing the return talisman would ensure a safe escape.

Her life is already secure, and everything else can be dealt with when Yu Xizhi returns.

This is how Yu Si comforted himself.

The grand array of Taiqing Peak opened, and the sword boat slowly sailed in, coming to a stop outside Taiqing Peak. Master Tan led a group of disciples to the ground, stowed the boat with a wave of his sleeve, and walked steadily into the main hall.

The main hall of Taiqing Peak fell silent. All the disciples of Kunwu Mountain Sect straightened their backs and silently and sharply observed the visitors from Xiya Tower.

In the minds of the Kunwu disciples, this was a silent contest between them and the Xiya Tower disciples. This was Kunwu’s home ground, and they could not afford to lose.

However, contrary to their expectations of a disciplined, perhaps disdainful, group of Xiya Tower disciples, what they saw was quite different. Though somewhat orderly, the Xiya Tower disciples were… craning their necks and looking around.

Some couldn’t resist glancing back at the inner disciples standing outside the main hall, while others, frowning, scanned the personal disciples as if looking for someone.

The Kunwu disciples were puzzled.

Looking for someone? Who could they be looking for? Could it be that someone from Kunwu had encountered them on a mission, leading to this grand visit under the pretext of seeking medical help but with a hidden agenda of revenge?

The personal disciples from various peaks exchanged dark looks, silently resolving to warn their junior brothers and sisters to be vigilant against any underhanded moves from these uninvited guests from Xiya Tower.

Master Huaiyun also noticed the unusual behavior of the Xiya Tower disciples. After a moment of thought, he concluded that it must be due to personal grievances from past encounters between the two sides and dismissed it from his mind. He approached Master Tan with a smiling face, exchanged some pleasantries, and then dismissed the personal and inner disciples before closing the hall doors to discuss important matters.

Master Huaiwei shook her sleeves in greeting and said, “Master Tan, please take a look at my partner’s young disciple. She recently had a great opportunity, entering a sword tomb, but was injured by sword energy. We thought that spiritual energy would gradually heal her meridians, but her condition has only worsened.”

This situation had already been mentioned in Master Huaiwei’s letter. As Master Tan stepped into the main hall, he immediately noticed the girl in the white dress standing behind her. With his discerning eye, he could see that Xia Yiyao’s condition could be suppressed by elixirs but not cured.

He hesitated, initially wanting to decline, but then remembered that finding someone within the eight thousand disciples of Kunwu Mountain Sect without arousing suspicion was no easy task.

So Master Tan took a few steps forward and smiled. “This illness is indeed complicated and will require slow treatment. The young girl will have to endure some hardship.”

The girl that everyone in Xiya Tower was looking for, who loved to eat noodles, had already left the mountain with her sword.

Demon-catching missions were largely similar.

The demon realm had plagued the human world for thousands of years. Every few cycles, the cultivation world would wage a war against the demon realm. It had been about fifteen or sixteen years since the last devastating War of the Sun Eclipse, and small demons had started to infiltrate the human world again, causing trouble.

After the War of the Sun Eclipse, the cultivation world suffered heavy losses, as did the demon realm. In the past, it was unimaginable for a disciple to go on a demon-extermination mission alone, but now the weakened demon clans have deteriorated to the point where they are only slightly stronger than ordinary humans. Sometimes, even a village’s strong hunters could handle them without the intervention of a cultivation sect. Only when it was impossible to manage would they seek help from the sects.

Yu Xizhi’s current mission is located in Lengbei Town, southwest of Qingwu Prefecture. According to the information transmitted through her identification plaque, the demon-seeking compass used by the outer disciples stationed there had been trembling constantly but had failed to pinpoint the exact location of the demon. However, there had been no reports of bloodshed or injuries in Lengbei Town, suggesting that the demon might not yet be fully sentient and could be dealt with by someone at the initial stage of the Qi Refining Realm.

As shadows danced beneath the trees, Yu Xizhi descended the long stone steps. She was nearly at the foot of the mountain, and the blue bricks and white tiles of the village came into view.

Suddenly, she stopped.

A slender boy in white stood quietly at the bottom of the stairs. His black hair cascaded down like a waterfall, held in place by a single white jade hairpin. His profile was like Jade.

Yu Xizhi had seen him wield his sword with fierce momentum and witnessed the cold ruthlessness when he grabbed someone by the throat, but this was the first time she had seen him standing so quietly.

He looked… strangely lonely.

This thought flitted through Yu Xizhi’s mind.

His profile was exceptionally beautiful, and his skin was cool and pale. His eyebrows and eyes, however, were not faint. He stood with a somewhat relaxed posture.

Hearing her footsteps, he turned his head and met Yu Xizhi’s startled and uncertain gaze. He glanced at her up and down, then slightly curled his lips. “Late Qi refining stage, not far from being a grandmaster.”

Yu Xizhi: …

Is this ancestor not very good at math?

She looked at him, her eyes falling on the item in his hand. It seemed familiar, and her consciousness read the second part of her mission plaque.

“Recommended number for the Qingwu Prefecture Lengbei Town mission: two.”

She stared at the boy in white for a moment and suddenly understood the odd atmosphere she had sensed earlier at the mission hall.

If she had a “one” above her head, then he had an extra stroke, making it a “two.”

She smiled and walked down the last few steps, teasing, “Why do you have the same mission plaque as me? Are you here to speed up my progress toward becoming a grandmaster?”

Xie Junzhi was a full head taller than her, so Yu Xizhi had to tilt her head to look at him, making her chin appear sharp. When she smiled, the dimples on her cheeks became more pronounced. Xie Junzhi felt an inexplicable itch in his hands and couldn’t help but rub the mission plaque. “Why didn’t you just use the teleportation talisman to get there?”

“I had some noodles yesterday; they were delicious,” Yu Xizhi replied honestly. “Today, I wanted to see if the town has other good food.”

Xie Junzhi was slightly taken aback. “Didn’t you just have a bowl of small wontons?”

Yu Xizhi was even more surprised and then inexplicably annoyed, her cheeks turning slightly red. “How do you know… And besides, that was breakfast. Now it’s time for lunch!”

Xie Junzhi hesitated. “So, you eat three meals a day?”

Yu Xizhi guessed that he, like her brother Yu Si, was about to lecture her. Cultivators aim for purity, avoiding impurities that enter through the mouth. After drawing in spiritual energy, many of the impurities expelled come from food. If he wanted her to become a grandmaster, he would probably insist she start fasting.

Moreover, even ordinary people with a health-conscious lifestyle avoid eating after noon, and girls generally eat very little. Unlike her, who couldn’t skip a single meal and kept meat patties in her qiankun bag.

Her mind raced, but then she heard the person next to her thoughtfully say, “I remember this town has a place that makes good ‘three sweet bowls.’ Want to try it?”

Yu Xizhi looked up in disbelief. She had many things she wanted to say, but as she followed him, she simply asked, “Why can you take on a mission for someone at the early stage of Qi refining?”

“Because no one knows my cultivation level,” Xie Junzhi replied leisurely, stepping on the stone-paved path with the air of a nobleman on an outing, each step relaxed and unhurried. “And no one dares to probe my cultivation level.”

Yu Xizhi carefully chose her words: “But… the longer you cultivate, the higher your cultivation level should be, right?”

“Which elder in the back mountain of Taiqing Peak isn’t a centuries-old monster? Even your master has been cultivating for over three hundred years and remains stuck in the same stage without progressing,” Xie Junzhi replied, shaking his head and missing her point.

“The longer you cultivate, the higher your cultivation level is not guaranteed. The only thing that gets thicker is your face.”

Yu Xizhi was dumbfounded.

She suspected he was a reclusive elder from Xuecan Peak, but since he didn’t reveal his identity, she didn’t show excessive respect. Her question wasn’t meant to elicit such an answer but to subtly remind him that even if no one could see through him, if he were an elder, no one would think he was at the Qi refining stage. An elder wouldn’t be in the Qi refining stage, right?

…Or perhaps the essence of his words was that he claimed to be in the Qi refining stage because he was thick-skinned and could take on Qi refining missions?

After Xie Junzhi finished speaking, he received no response for a while. When he turned his head, he saw Yu Xizhi’s flickering eyes and finally realized something.

He stopped at the door of the ‘three sweet bowls’ shop, his expression strange, drawing out his words with a half-smile, “Oh—you think I’m one of those old monsters, right?”

The sweet aroma of almond tea, lotus seed porridge, and sugar-steamed eight-treasure rice filled the air. Just the scent made Yu Xizhi’s mouth water. In the midst of this overwhelming fragrance, the boy in white leaned towards her, smiling as he said, “But I’m the same age as your brother.”

Yu Xizhi stared at him in a daze.

Xie Junzhi was so close that she could see his delicate, cool white skin, his dark, feather-like eyelashes, and his jet-black pupils. She even felt as if his breath was brushing against her forehead, or perhaps the warm steam from the ‘three sweet bowls’ shop chimney was drifting towards her, making her face feel slightly hot.

“By the way, I’ve always forgotten to introduce myself. My name is Xie Junzhi.”

Yu Xizhi took a deep breath, her mind a swirling, sweet mess.

Alright, she understood.

This Xie ancestor indeed had a very thick skin.


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