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Chapter 22

“Where is Yao Yao?” True Immortal Master Huaiwei asked, her voice slightly cold as she looked at the empty bed.

Naturally, Master Huaiwei had maidservants, who were not ordinary people but rather little immortals who had achieved enlightenment, though they were slightly older, had less promising innate qualities, and lacked notable family backgrounds.

If they were in the outer sect, they might muddle through life, but serving as the maidservants of the sect master’s companion, Master Huaiwei, even a few casual tips or leaks of good things from the master could make the idea of achieving the Qi refining and foundation establishment stages not entirely out of reach.

Master Huaiwei’s chief maidservant was named Jiang Zhen. Just over twenty years old, she had recently crossed the threshold of Qi refining thanks to Master Huai Wei’s guidance.

She bowed slightly at the question, her meticulously groomed hair neatly tied at the back of her head, her face calm to the point of being stiff, making her look like she was in her early thirties. “Master, I heard that Little Immortal Xia rushed to the sword trial platform for a duel with Xiya Tower.”

Master Huai Wei’s expression changed abruptly. “Didn’t Huaiyun forbid it? Who dares to be so bold?!”

Jiang Zhen bowed lower before responding, “I heard… it was Little Immortal Master Yu who just returned from a mission.”

“Yu Si? That child is usually so steady; how could he do such a thing?” Master Huai Wei turned to look at Jiang Zhen, frowning in confusion.

“No, it was the other Little Immortal Master Yu.”

Master Huai Wei was stunned for several seconds before she remembered that there was indeed another Little Immortal Master Yu. Her frown deepened. “You mean Yu Xizhi? She went on a mission? What mission? Has she even reached Qi Refinining to take on missions?”

—She almost forgot there was such a person.

“Yes, she went to the northern town of Qingwu Mansion, captured a Beibao alive, and killed 126 Jealousy Demons. She should have been in the early stages of Qi refining when she left,” Jiang Zhen answered methodically.

Master Huai Wei’s hand paused slightly as she reached for the candied plums. “Early Qi refining? 126 Jealousy Demons? Do you know what you’re saying? Ridiculous!”

Jiang Zhen only relayed the message, bowing silently as Master Huaiwei sneered repeatedly. Finally, she looked at Jiang Zhen. “Jiang Zhen, you are also in the early Qi refining stage. If I asked you to kill Jealousy Demons, let alone 126, could you kill even one?”

“I could not.”

Jiang Zhen’s eyebrows didn’t even twitch. Whether she could kill them was unimportant; whether she had seen or knew what jealousy demons were was also unimportant.

What mattered was what Master Huaiwei wanted to hear right now.

Master Huaiwei revealed an “I knew it” expression and snorted.

“And the Beibao, which is quite rare. It’s on the last few pages of the Ten Thousand Demons atlas. Did she read the entire atlas? How else would she know the demon’s weakness and capture it alive? It’s absurd. Investigate further to see if someone helped her.”

With that, she showed a bit of disdain. However, she wasn’t a top-tier beauty; perhaps because she had held a high position for so long, her face naturally maintained a dignified look. Under such an expression, with added disdain, she appeared somewhat bland and even harsh.

“I heard that the old Taoist in red has come to play chess with Huaiyun again? I think he’s just bored. Let’s go take a look.”

Jiang Zhen stepped back two paces and hurriedly followed Real Master Huai Wei, saying, “True Immortal Master, please wait. The Sect Master and the Master are also heading towards the sword trial platform. Moreover, it’s said that Master Tan has also gone.”

“Master Tan too?” Master Huaiwei’s steps halted, her expression turning even more sour. “He must think that our Kunwu Mountain Sect is bullying others too much and has gone to uphold justice for his disciple! Let’s go and see. This Yu Xizhi is truly overestimating herself! Last time, she caused Yao Yao to fall into the Sword Tomb, and she wasn’t punished enough. This time, she must not be spared!”

The sword trial platform was eerily silent.

Xuan Ping and Xuan Fan were trembling and speechless.

One had a mole-scarred eyebrow that drooped with shock, while the other’s eyebrow shot up in surprise.

They had searched every peak of Kunwu Mountain Sect, almost trampling the entire range, beginning to doubt whether the noodle-eating girl even existed.

In the end, it seemed that the person they had often talked about, the “Second Senior Sister who makes meat pie,” was indeed her?

… Second Senior Sister, with your skills, why are you still making meat pie?!

No, the real question is: Second Senior Sister, with your abilities, why does everyone in Kunwu Mountain Sect regard you as mediocre and look down on you?

Is Kunwu Mountain Sect broken?

Or… has Kunwu Mountain Sect become so formidable?!

The pupils of the disciples from Xiya Tower who were jeering along with Xuan Ping and Xuan Fan trembled violently.

Some had already turned swiftly, glaring at Li Shengyi with anger, thinking, “Did you know this all along? Why didn’t you say anything?”

The latter pretended not to see it, silently chanting the six-character mantra “Eat your big meat pie” in his heart, and dug his way out of the main hall of Taiqing Peak with his toes. At the same time, he felt sad about the upcoming duel but inexplicably felt a sense of pleasure.

It was like seeing someone who had always been overlooked, ignored, or even despised suddenly become dazzlingly brilliant overnight, sharing in that glory.

Li Shengyi felt conflicted and awkward; his feelings split in two—half as refreshing as a spring breeze, half as harsh as a winter mountain.

Yet he still had to step forward, sign, and stand opposite Yu Xizhi.

Li Shengyi bitterly put down the brush, straightened his clothes, and bowed deeply to Yu Xizhi, earnestly asking, “This battle is inevitable. I am Li Shengyi from Xiya Tower, in the late Enlightenment stage, and I am here to seek your guidance. May I ask, What is Second Senior Sister Yu’s cultivation level?”

“What’s her cultivation level?” Someone spoke up before Yu Xizhi could answer, their voice full of sarcasm. Teacher Xu said coldly, “She’s barely in the Qi refining stage. You’re in luck. Among the personal disciples of Taiqing Peak, she has the least combat experience and the weakest ability to face an opponent. Even if you win, it doesn’t mean Kunwu’s swordsmanship is inferior to Xiya Tower’s.”

He paused, his voice growing more severe.

“Sect master Huaiyun has clearly ordered us to be courteous to the disciples of Xiya Tower. Yu Xizhi, you’ve already violated the order. If you lose this duel too, have you thought about the consequences?”

Teacher Xu had suffered a setback from Yu Xizhi last time and secretly harbored resentment, eager to turn the tables. Now that he finally had the chance, he wasn’t going to miss it.

His words were clear to anyone who understood.

Criticizing Yu Xizhi was one thing, but more importantly, it was about preserving the face of Kunwu Mountain Sect.

In his eyes, Yu Xizhi was bound to lose.

By saying this in advance, even if she lost, Kunwu Mountain Sect wouldn’t lose too much face.

“I’ve said it before: Yu Xizhi isn’t up to the task. Even if you win against her, it means nothing,” Teacher Xu remarked, feeling his words were impeccable. Kunwu disciples who understood his implication nodded subtly, some already circulating spiritual energy to warm up their meridians, ready to step up and save face for Kunwu Mountain Sect if Yu Xizhi lost.

No one noticed the Xiya Tower disciples exchanging awkward glances; their expressions were strange and hesitant.

Suddenly, someone spoke up.

“Teacher Xu, do you know why you’ve been unable to reach the Core Formation stage?” A lazy yet mocking voice echoed, “Do you really think you’re in charge of Taiqing Peak? I’ve seen you here for a while now, fussing over our junior sister and worrying about my second senior sister. With a state of mind like that, no wonder your core formation is doubtful.”

The voice came from above.

Everyone looked up to see that the crowd had overflowed into the trees, their muddy feet dangling. The speaker, a particularly refined and arrogant youth, was reclining, occupying an entire tree branch, which was the best spot with a clear view and shade.

The youth appeared relaxed and handsome, with an air that pleased those who saw him, but his words dripped with sarcasm: “Since Teacher Xu is so concerned, I have a suggestion. Aren’t there two teachers from Xiya Tower here as well? Why doesn’t teacher Xu have a match with them? Even if my second senior sister loses face, you can win it back for Kunwu Mountain Sect.”

Teacher Xu was infuriated: “…You!”

He dared to openly criticize Yu Xizhi, mainly because she wasn’t favored by the sect master and his wife and also because her cultivation level was indeed unimpressive. But the speaker was Yi Zui, whose formidable backing and bad temper were well known. Yi Zui was at the peak of Qi refining, just a step away from the foundation establishment. Confronting Yi Zui was another matter entirely. Everyone knew his sharp tongue was unbeatable, and Teacher Xu stood no chance in a verbal battle.

Yu Xizhi was surprised that her third junior brother would speak up for her, glancing at him unexpectedly. Yi Zui caught her gaze and, with a mix of sarcasm and concern, asked, “Second Senior Sister, did Senior Brother teach you anything besides the Qingfeng Liuyun Sword?”

Yu Xizhi shook her head calmly. “No, he only taught me that.”

Yi Zui scrutinized her, seemingly deep in thought. Then, he slowly sat up, tapped his toes, and leaped from the tree, landing beside Yu Xizhi. He laughed loudly, “Kunwu’s Qingfeng Liuyun Sword, please enlighten us, Xiya Tower!”

Hearing the name Qingfeng Liuyun Sword, Xuan Ping and Xuan Fan turned pale, recalling something, but then they remembered they were in the late stage of Qi Refinining, which reassured them slightly.

Yi Zui’s booming declaration and theatrical entrance left Yu Xizhi momentarily speechless. She sighed inwardly, thinking it was best not to argue with this middle school boy.

Regardless of how Li Shengyi behaved in a noodle shop or why his demeanor had suddenly changed, since he had treated her with respect, Yu Xizhi naturally could not draw her sword immediately. She earnestly returned the courtesy, “Yu Xizhi of Taiqing Peak, Kunwu Mountain Sect. Please guide me.”

She leaped onto the sword trial platform, gestured for Li Shengyi to proceed, and drew her sword.

The square boundary of the sword trial platform rose, and Li Shengyi raised his sword, his eyes shining slightly. He thought to himself that no matter what, he had learned the sword techniques of Xiya Tower. Even if he lost, he had to make this sword strike beautiful!

“Li Shengyi,” Xuan Ping suddenly spoke, accurately calling his name, “Step down; I’ll take over.”

As he spoke, Xuan Fan, like Li Shengyi earlier, bowed to Yu Xizhi on the high platform, “Xuan Fan, personal disciple of the Second Tower Master of Xiya Tower. I have just broken through to the late stage of Qi refining. I humbly request guidance in Kunwu’s Qingfeng Liuyun from Junior Master Yu.”

The two spoke almost simultaneously.

Lately, the twin brothers had been strutting around Kunwu Mountain Sect, well-known for their stroke of luck in the Sword Tomb, which had propelled them to the late stage of Qi Refinement, placing them among the most outstanding young disciples of Xiya Tower. It was said that at Xiya Tower, besides the already Foundation Establishment Senior Sister Tan Mingtang, no one could control them.

And now, both of them wanted to duel with that “worthless” Second Senior Sister?

Were they trying to deliberately humiliate the Kunwu Mountain Sect?!

Li Shengyi’s resolve wavered, his expression crestfallen. Did he not even have the chance to strike once?

Many in Kunwu Mountain Sect changed their expressions, about to speak up, when they saw Yu Xizhi flick her thumb, pushing her sword out of its sheath a few inches before she raised her wrist and pressed it back down, producing a crisp sound. “Do you remember what I said last time?”

Xuan Ping and Xuan Fan were momentarily stunned, their minds racing through thoughts like “Three thin slices, plus a beef meatball,” and “Noodles should be eaten while hot, or they’ll get soggy and taste bad.” They wondered what these had to do with the present situation.

As they pondered, the girl’s voice spoke again: “How impolite.”

Her tone carried a hint of resignation, yet it remained gentle, like a patient elder educating unruly youngsters: “I taught you in Xianyun County about Kunwu’s rule—no drawing swords in mortal territories. Now, let me teach you another important lesson in life.”

“In this world, most things follow the principle of first come, first served.” She tapped her sword sheath casually and said, “Unless you are shameless and insist on taking what belongs to the one who came first.”

Her tone was mild, but her words hit hard.

Xuan Ping and Xuan Fan naturally understood her meaning.

A sword cultivator’s sword needs tempering, both by keeping it close at all times and through combat.

A sword is meant to slay demons and enemies; keeping it sheathed all the time—what kind of sword is that?

Combat, especially against stronger opponents, is an opportunity. Their fortune in the Sword Tomb, turning calamity into a blessing, was proof of this.

Right now, they are shamelessly trying to snatch away Li Shengyi’s opportunity to strike.

Xuan Ping and Xuan Fan’s faces turned pale.

Nearby, the junior sister, Xia Yiyao, bit her lip quietly.

Wasn’t she the one who later took away all the attention meant for the Second Senior Sister?

Was Second Senior Sister indirectly calling her shameless?

On the sword trial platform, everyone had different thoughts, but Yu Xizhi couldn’t be bothered to think or watch any longer. Since she had first mentioned drawing her sword, too much time had already been wasted, and her sword’s intent and spirit had waned.

Since she was going to compete in a sword duel, no matter who her opponent was, when she grasped her sword, the words of Xie Junzhi from the day she slew the demon of Jealousy echoed in her mind.

Thus, the girl lowered her gaze, gripped her sword again, and her expression became calm: “Please.”

The Qingfeng Liuyun Sword had five forms. The first two forms were Breeze, and the last three forms were Cloud.

It was a simple sword technique that even outer sect disciples knew, and it was not a secret to martial artists who had seen more in Xianyun County—it was quite unremarkable.

Yu Xizhi’s initial move was equally unremarkable.

It was the well-known first form of Breeze, familiar to all Kunwu disciples.

However, her movement was like a flowing cloud. When the sword of one who had slain 126 demon spirits of Jealousy was unsheathed again, it was filled with a murderous aura!

Li Shengyi also drew his sword, but as his sword intent condensed and his sword was raised to his face, the opponent’s sword light had already reached his eyes!

He widened his eyes, trying to see the sword light clearly, but all he saw was his own sword shattering with a clang, pieces clattering on the stone platform like raindrops on a quiet night window or wind chimes hanging from the eaves of his hometown.

The sword light didn’t stop, skimming past his temples and striking the boundary of the sword trial platform, causing the hair of nearby disciples to be blown back, as if by a gust of wind, before finally coming to a halt.

This was no Breeze! There was no such severe and fierce Breeze!

Kunwu disciples were stunned into silence.

But it was indeed the Breeze.

Her move, from start to finish, was just the first form of Breeze, the wind beginning and then stopping.

“Sorry,” Yu Xizhi said, holding her sword and looking at Li Shengyi, “for breaking your sword.”

Li Shengyi’s lips trembled, and his face paled. He clearly hadn’t recovered from the shock of that previous strike. Hearing Yu Xizhi’s words, he instinctively wanted to force a bitter smile and say that it was not her fault that his skill was inferior and that she couldn’t hold back her sword intent.

But Yu Xizhi continued first: “You spoke disrespectfully to my brother in a noodle shop, so consider this broken sword your apology.”

So it wasn’t unintentional.

For a sword cultivator, a broken sword is a direct affront.

Yu Xizhi knew this and intentionally shattered his pride.

She apologized because the sword itself was innocent, though it was a pity that it was his sword.

She had saluted before drawing her sword, and she had fought seriously. This had nothing to do with Li Shengyi as a person; whenever she drew her sword, she did so with full dedication and precision.

Only the broken sword was aimed at him.

The platform and its surroundings were silent.

Li Shengyi held the broken hilt, feeling the cold wind against his robe—a mix of shame and the sense that this couldn’t end like this.

So he silently sheathed his sword, turned towards Yu Xizhi, and bowed earnestly with remorse: “Junior Master Yu, I apologize.”

“No problem.” Yu Xizhi shook her head, a slight smile in her eyes. Suddenly, she said, “Congratulations.”

Everyone was puzzled by her words, but then they saw a wind stir around Li Shengyi, standing on the platform.

The swaying branches paused momentarily, the boundary of the platform opened, and light spilled from behind the clouds, bathing Li Shengyi in a gentle aura.

A girl’s single strike, shattering the sword and stirring the wind, prompted an apology.

A boy’s single apology, and he broke through two realms, reaching the Qi Refining stage.


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