As the two chatted, when they entered the Pure Heart Peak, they resumed formalities as they then fell off their flying swords. While Flaming Eastern Island seemingly had blistering heat, this Pure Heart Peak contrarily was indeed a refreshing coolness that set the heart as its name suggested. It was an entirely different scene, surrounded by emerald green, mellow and fresh water, with rare birds and beasts that could be seen from time to time. The main peak’s environment was even more enveloped within a boundless mist, a school abundant with the colors of spring.
Yang Yanyu said Flaming Eastern Island’s network of volcanoes was continuous. Like Fire Cloud Peak, the environment was broiling hot, the temperature higher by more than forty degrees, the highest reaching a hundred degrees. If ordinary cultivators did not wear precious jade, they simply would not have any way to support themselves for too long. Something like Pure Heart Peak was even created in ancient times when ancestral masters exerted their powers and secret arts; it could be said to be a genuine paradise. In addition, this kind of place was the residence of the Headmaster.
They did not walk for long when an immense ring-shaped corridor appeared before them. Along its edge at intervals of two zhang were red pillars, and the pillars were carved with coiling dragons. The dragons spat raging flames and within the conflagration, an arched door took shape. Following the corridor onward, they passed by each and every door and fire dragon pillar, and only then did Su Xing discover, within every door, each possessed a unique and refined courtyard. The scope of these courtyards were complex, with the “Sword Storage Pavilion,”1 the “Literary Path,”2 the “Extreme Technique Hall,”3 “Weapon Tempering Hall,”4 the “Hundred Opportune Courtyard,”5 and so forth. Only through Yang Yanyu’s introductions did he realize that the “tool refinement,” “quenching hardening,” “spell carving” and the others of these courtyards and pavilions embodied a series of the Four Styles Sect’s most common sights. Without mentioning anything else, speaking from this scale, small courtyards like this perhaps were not less than a hundred in number, so the former power of the Four Styles School could be clearly seen. It was a pity that these rows upon rows of numerous halls were nowadays pathetically few in disciples.
Some pavilions were even without people to stand guard, covered completely in dust.
Only after walking for a long while did they see the end of this corridor. There was an incomparably towering white wall, and under it, a door opened. There were two very thick wooden door panels, their heights reaching ten zhang. The door was painted with the four styles of wind, thunder, water and fire; serious and vivid, a supernaturally fine craft.
Stepping out of this door just now, Su Xing held his breath, looking at everything before him in disbelief.
What he was before him was a super huge plaza, as if he stood in a plain that had no end in sight. Su Xing estimated it was at least the size of three Tiananmen Squares. The surface was completely paved with white marble, reflecting and sparkling. One look would make people feel insignificant.
From far away, a white cloud that was like muslin unexpectedly drifted underfoot. In the center of the public square, at intervals of several zhang were placed massive copper cauldrons, divided into three rows with three each for a total of nine arranged according to some pattern. From within the cauldrons, smoke drifted out from time to time, the scent distinct and not dispersed.
In the plaza was a several zhang tall gigantic inscribed stele that was carved from white jade, and in the middle was carved a relief sculpture of a fairy entering the mundane world. He saw that fairy entrusting a white Divine Sword to a young man half-kneeling below, who caught the blade.
Upon the inscribed stele was a stone sword that was exactly the same as in the relief sculpture.
“This sword is called ‘Heaven and Earth of the Four Styles.’6 Legend says a goddess conferred it upon the Ancestral Master that opened the school. We comprehended the four refinement styles of today from the ‘wind, thunder, water, fire’ on the sword. That is precisely this school’s history.” Seeing that Su Xing was a disciple of the Master, and that his future held abundant prospects, Yang Yanyu very meticulously presented things. “The Heaven and Earth of the Four Styles Sword is indeed a sect protecting treasure.”
At the end of the plaza was a stone bridge, without foundations, stretching to the sky. One end was connected to the plaza, directly inclining upwards, into the abyss of clouds, like a dragon leaping through the Heavens. Its grandeur was proud and aloof, and water flowed unceasingly from the ends, incomparably clear.
Walking along this endless bridge, they ascended more than a hundred steps. The representative giant beast of the Four Styles, the copper cauldrons, towered nearby.7 Afterwards, they arrived at the highest peak – the location of Styles Heart Hall!8
Su Xing’s heart said this Four Styles School deserved the name of the Ancient Nine Dragon’s Great Sect. Although it had declined, the remaining buildings were timeless in their manifested splendor. It was just that currently, it had an additional trace of desolation.
Upon the main hall, there stood several dozen people, who all seemed to be under the Four Styles School. Before everyone were placed seven large sandalwood chairs, with one each on the left and right, and another position in between at the very front. Above, there actually sat only six people, and only the last seat on the right row was empty without anyone sitting in it.
At this time, everyone in the hall was currently in discussion, seeming deliberating something. The Yang Yanyu who guided Su Xing tidied her robes outside the door, respectfully saying: “Headmaster, all Master Uncles,9 Disciple Yanyu received orders to bring the disciple who held onto Master Uncle Qingshan’s token.”
“You may continue.”
A dense voice started to talk.
Su Xing walked into the hall, and several expressions sharp as falcons looked towards him, seemingly to look at him clearly from head to toe. The cultivators in this main hall nearly were the peaks of the Four Styles School, and Su Xing remained calm and collected, secretly sizing them up. By means of Wu Xinjie’s “Seeing Clearly” innate skill, not a single one of these cultivators’ cultivations did not stand out as prominent in the current Su Xing’s eyes.
Everyone was Galaxy Middle Stage to Late Stage, and the one sitting in the middle with a Fire Refining robe, seemingly different in spirit, was an old man with eyes like candle flames and the highest cultivation, already at Supercluster Middle Stage. It was just that he saw his aged Essence Qi was dark, just like he was in his declining years.
He was precisely the Four Styles Sect’s Headmaster, the “Daoist Master Xuantian.”10
Yuchi Qingshan was just the pinnacle tool refinement scholar of the Four Styles School that Yang Yanyu said. After they lost his trail, those within the sect previously wrung their wrists and sighed more than once, but when they received news that Yuchi Qingshan’s apprentice was entering the door, the entire Four Styles School was astonished. The Daoist Master Xuantian immediately convened the First Seats of the Four Styles Spirit Peaks for discussion.
Seeing Su Xing was calm and collected, like a dry well,11 the Daoist Master Xuantian inwardly sighed that a Master under him had chosen an extraordinary apprentice. Looking at that bearing, it seemed he had seen gales and billows, imposing and steady, his expression calm; he truly was a good successor to be used for tool refinement. Originally, he still had some doubts, but now, he completely believed Su Xing was Yuchi Qingshan’s apprentice.12
In any case, even if he was not, it did not matter. The Four Styles School already had not seen such a gifted and outstanding disciple for a very long time.
A Nebula Late Stage cultivation was not low.
“You are called Su Xing?” The Daoist Master Xuantian asked.
“This one beneath you precisely is Su Xing.” Su Xing reported.
“And how did his find you?”
Su Xing regurgitated his speech again, and if nothing else, it was the stereotypical chance encounter, with that kind of unavoidable, “Boy, I see you hold much potential and such” routine. In Liangshan Continent, the disciples received this way were many.
The Daoist Master Xuantian also asked Su XIng how his Master fell. Su Xing did not directly at all say he had died, instead saying that after his Master left behind the token and secret arts, Master let him set out for the Four Styles School while he swam once more into the clouds. Saying as much was to omit unnecessary troubles, and lying too much made it easy for him to become exposed.
The expression of everyone present was bleak, already knowing everything towards Yuchi Qingshan bode ill, with no positive signs.
“Did your Master leave behind any other things?” The Daoist Master Qingshan asked in a low voice.
“None.” Su Xing shook his head.
“Like this, ah.” The Daoist Master Xuantian was regretful.
“Headmaster, since Master Uncle Yuchi Qingshan commanded him to come to this sect alone, it is not possible for him to practice by himself. I had better re-enroll him into the school.” A full bearded, capable man’s deep voice said, his eyes looked at Su Xing like he was eyeing a treasure. Just as his fingertip was about to point at Su Xing, he was blocked by the “Thunder Roll Peak” First Seat E Yizheng13 beside him, who rushed out in front of him. He said to the Daoist Master Xuantian: “Senior Brother Headmaster, today, the moment I saw this child, I felt that he and I are kindred spirits, and seeing his practice is the Clinging Fire Introductory Cultivation Method, it actually complements the Thunder Roll Cultivation Method very well.”
“Is it not even more suitable with my Heavenly Fire Peak?” The big man was displeased.
For the long established Four Styles School, actually because it was nowadays cut off from the rest of the world, it had been blockaded by the Azure Dragon Territory, so disciples could only be sought after in the dozen or so villages on Flaming Eastern Island. Think about how miserable that was. The disciples already under the school was a yellow unable to reach the green, and now seeing Su Xing’s cultivation had reached this high of a Nebula Late Stage, he simply was regarded by Master Uncle Yuchi Qingshan as a piece of delicious cake. It could not be said for sure what else that tool refinement scholar left behind for him.
“From what I see, he is wise and steady, calm and quick-witted. The Water Moon Peak actually could not be better.” The First Seat of Water Moon Peak also butted in.
The Daoist Master Xuantian looked at their squabble, wrinkling his brow.
“Quarreling into this fashion, what a scandal!”
A voice cold as pure frost suddenly penetrated into the main hall.
The door opened. A dignified and refined beautiful woman with a hairbun delicately walked in leisurely. The quarreling individuals in the main hall immediately shut their mouths.
“Junior Sister Yueke, why have you left seclusion?” The Daoist Master Xuantian rose to go greet her. This beauty’s position within the Four Style School was not low. The First Seats of the Four Styles Mountain Peaks all continuously smiled awkwardly.
Junior Sister Yueke?
Su Xing’s brows jumped. This woman was Ju Yueke?14
Within the letters Yuchi Qingshan left behind, he had found many records regarding things about Ju Yueke. The relationship between the two seemed to be not simple. Su Xing surreptitiously looked her up and down.
Black clothes bounded white, a dancing form that birthed wind, long brows wholesomely beautiful, a manner that slightly looked down on others.
“Senior Brother Headmaster, what, I heard that Senior Brother15 had an apprentice that came to enter the school, how could Junior Sister not be informed?” The beauty lightly smiled.
The Daoist Master Xuantian was embarrassed. He did not call for this Junior Sister of his because he knew she and Yuchi Qingshan had some things that were not spoken of clearly between them. From the surface of the two, one was a “Heaven Clinging Divine Fire,” and the other was a “Heaven’s Will Water Flame,” an intolerable combination of sharply contrasting elements. However, he also knew this relationship of competition was more or less somewhat vague. When Yuchi Qingshan originally set out to search for a disciple, this Junior Sister was depressed and sad for a time.
The fact his apprentice returned signified that Yuchi Qingshan had already suffered a mishap. Otherwise, how could he have possibly alone be given his Personal Token.16 The Daoist Master Xuantian was also afraid this Junior Sister would take her anger out on the talented apprentice the Four Styles School had so much difficulty receiving.
“Senior Brother Headmaster, you can relax. Yueke has already reconciled herself about him. Originally, in spite of hearing obstructions, he was determined to go to the Azure Dragon Territory to receive an apprentice. Yueke then knew everything bode ill for him.” Ju Yueke calmly smiled.
“Master Aunt17 Yueke.” Su Xing bowed his head.
Ju Yueke sized him up, nodded, and mildly said: “Not bad. He actually has some insight, finding a good disciple when he was at death’s door. He was always better off compared to our being trapped here to death. Such a pity…”
“Senior Brother Headmaster, turn him over to this Junior Sister’s school.” Ju Yueke said.
“Senior Sister Yueke, it has been very difficult these past two years for a gifted and outstanding youngster to come, and you have already signed him away.” The First Seat of Water Moon Peak complained.
“Lianxin’s18 progress these past several years has been comparatively great, but his temper is somewhat antisocial. Although weapon refinement masters are all this way, I certainly would not want to see something like a second Senior Brother Qingshan. On one hand, the cultivation of the two is close to being kindred spirits, and on the other, we can have Lianxi take care of Su Xing’s potential in weapon refinement. Is it not too excessive for Yueke’s school to have these two apprentices?” Yueke’s smile was like a lotus flower, uncontaminated by filth.
The others had no alternative.
- 藏劍閣 ↩
- 書香宛 ↩
- 極法殿 ↩
- 淬兵堂 ↩
- 百巧院 ↩
- 四法乾坤 ↩
- Don’t know why a cauldron is a “beast,” but that’s what the raws say… ↩
- 法心殿 ↩
- 師叔, again, not her own Master, but colleagues of her Master ↩
- 玄天真人 ↩
- 古井無波 idiom that means he is unmoved by things in the world. ↩
- Oh, boy. What will happen when his lie is uncovered? ↩
- 鄂一正 ↩
- 居月可 ↩
- 師哥, more informal than the 師兄 she used for the Headmaster ↩
- It seems the ruse is already unraveling 😡 ↩
- 師姑 ↩
- 憐心, the him of the previous sentence. ↩