Saturday, 23 November 2019

Chapter 19 - Drawing Lots


The Water Kylin was a spiritual kind from primeval times, an ancient rare beast, with his display of prowess, immediately the sky changed its countenance, the blue sky immediately darkened, following its first step towards the stairs, the mild mountain breeze turned wild, sharp whistling and rolling over Tongtian Peak summit.

And the Jade Pool, the water surface started showing some motion, it trembled and then suddenly spun violently, the entire pool swirling rapidly, forming a deep vortex in the middle, deep inside the vortex, rumbling sounds were heard.

The next moment, the crowd heard a loud sound, a water column shot out from the vortex, as thick as three humans grouped together, it spun in mid-air and bent, as if being manipulated, landed before the Water Kylin, short like a river dragon, glittering and translucent, spinning in the air.   

At this time, among the disciples standing at the stairs, including the highest skilled Qihao, not one could keep his calm, everyone’s countenances changed, some even turned pale and trembling.

The reason why Water Kylin was able to assist Qing Ye Founder to eliminate the evils thousand years ago and revered by Qing Yun sect for thousand years, was revealed at this instant. Among water, earth, gold, fire and wood elements, the Water Kylin was the supreme spiritual animal in the water element. Just by looking at this move of controlling the water through air, without using any borrowed power, it summoned the water column which could hold itself up, not at all showing any exertion of effort when the water column spun in mid-air, its spiritual power strong, its thoughts pure, those already far surpassed an ordinary practitioner, even within Qing Yun sect, not to mention using pure mental powers to do this, there wasn’t one that could even if a magical weapon was used.

This moment, heaven and earth were dark, the storm brewing, Qing Yun sect disciples witnessed the Water Kylin’s rage never seen for thousand over years, they stared dumbfounded, not knowing what to do. And just at the moment, the Water Kylin roared with rage, both eyes glaring, its fury and hatred in its eyes turned denser, as if it sensed an arch enemy or something it abhorred greatly, to fight a battle to the death. And the thick water column before it spun even more rapidly, suddenly a deafening sound, the huge water column carrying infinite power, swept over to the disciples with incredulous might.

And at this critical moment, a shout was heard, “Supreme spirit, please be appeased!”

A dark-green figure, as if appearing out of thin air, hovering in the air between the Water Kylin and the disciples, it was Qing Yun sect Head Reverend Daoxuan. Not seen for five years, his celestial demeanour seemed not to have changed at all, he was frowning tightly, clearly puzzled over the Water Kylin’s behaviour too.

However, the situation was urgent, behind him stood several of Qing Yun’s most elite group of young disciples, and the approaching water column, within it different savage huge beast images indistinctly appearing with flashes of light, clearly those were the ferocious beasts that were killed by the Water Kylin previously and their souls merged into its body, unable to be reincarnated, trapped in the water column, enhancing its might, even Reverend Daoxuan with his exceptionally talented skills, also felt afraid of it.

As the water column was almost before him, Daoxuan had no choice, took a deep breath and spoke, “Immeasurable Celestial Worthy!” both hands raised, hugged an air of ball, his right and left hands forming sword formulas, steady yet urgently, drew a Taiji before him, instantly the drawing lit up, auspicious air surged, Daoxuan turned around, his robes swelled up without any wind and abruptly fluttered up and down, the Taiji drawing immediately dashed before his robes, branded into it. The robes looked like it was also a treasured item from the celestials, after receiving the drawing, [hu] a sound, it started to expand and soon more than ten times bigger, horizontally in the air.

[Hua] a loud sound, the Water Kylin’s water column collided with the robe, roars were heard from the water column incessantly, as if those demon beasts souls were raging. After receiving the heavy blow from the robe, it retreated several zhang, the centre of the robe was seen dented deeply, appeared to have received a great blow.       

Those young disciples standing at the stairs, stared dumbly, felt a huge gust of wind, everyone of them couldn’t stand firmly, other than those with deeper cultivation who managed to bear it with effort, most of them fell left or right. All of them turned pale, if Reverend Daoxuan did not receive the Water Kylin’s attack, they dared not think of the consequences.

Zhang Xiaofan’s face was pale, he couldn’t stand firm and fell aside, Lin Jingyu saw it and wanted to stretch out his hand to help him but unexpectedly his body slanted and he fell to the other side.

Zhang Xiaofan was greatly shocked, subconsciously he let go of that firestick in his bosom, struggled to find a place to hold on, did not notice at all that the ice cold feeling disappeared once his hand left the firestick.

In the air, Reverend Daoxuan’s face was solemn, behind him, [sua, sua, sua] several people appeared, stood behind him hovering, at the front was Cangsong Taoist, the rest were the six branches leaders and various elders, Tian Buyi and Suru were among them, each of them solemn-looking.

All of Qing Yun’s martial experts were right here now, whoever in the world, facing such a battle, would also be at least seventy percent afraid, yet this Water Kylin before the group of Qing Yun’s highly skilled sect head, branch leaders and elders, showed no signs of fear. But under their stares, the Water Kylin’s enraged eyes suddenly turned calm, revealing a strange expression, as if bewildered, and the water column before it started to shrink and finally dropped with a [hua la], making a water stain on the ground.

The Water Kylin’s battle impetus was totally gone but its huge body was still towering at the same spot, looking rather terrible. It ignored the senior leaders in the air, stared at those young disciples at the stairs, its gaze sweeping right and left, and also sniffed the air but did not seem to catch any scent.

After a while and repeated this strange behaviours many times, the Water Kylin seemed to finally give up, shook its enormous head, turned and swayed back to another empty ground, lie down and rested its head on its leg, closed its eyes and not long after, its snores was heard again.

The Qing Yun sect members looked at each other, dumbstruck.

Cangsong Taoist was the first to recover, quietly moved to Reverend Daoxuan, quietly said, “Sect head senior brother, it’s not advisable for the disciples to be here any longer.”

Daoxuan realized his words were true, nodded and said, “You will bring the disciples up first, I will go and take a look at the Supreme Spirit.” After speaking, his body bent and flew towards the Water Kylin.

Cangsong Taoist turned around, said loudly, “Supreme Spirit was fooling around with everyone just now, all of you don’t have to worry, those disciples who are going to the auditions, please walk to the Crystal hall.”

The disciples replied with an acknowledgement, resumed order and headed up. However, most probably not one of them would feel that the Water Kylin was fooling around with that terrifying attack.

Following behind the group, Zhang Xiaofan and Lin Jingyu walked into the majestic huge Crystal Hall. Standing inside the hall, Zhang Xiaofan suddenly felt, all of his memories five years ago started to flash in his mind.

“Jingyu” Zhang Xiaofan suddenly called out quietly.

“What?” Lin Jingyu glanced at Zhang Xiaofan.

Zhang Xiaofan with a quiet voice, said, “I suddenly recalled something, these past few years, have you seen Wang Ershu?”

Lin Jingyu’s face turned solemn, shook his head and said, “No, this is also the first time I am back to Tongtian Peak. Three years ago I have asked Qihao senior brother about Wang Ershu, heard that he is still mad, running around the whole day at Tongtian Peak, but with the elder branch senior brothers taking care of him, he should be fine.”

Zhang Xiaofan was silent for a moment, said, “After this competition, I will like to go and see him, do you want to go too?”

Lin Jingyu nodded and said, “Alright, I too would like to see him.”     

At this moment, in the hall, a dark-green figure flashed past, Reverend Daoxuan flashed in from the outside, all of the elders turned their gazes to him, Cangsong Taoist walked up and asked, “Sect head senior brother, Supreme Spirit…”

Daoxuan raised his hand and stopped him, signaled him with his eyes, Cangsong Taoist immediately understood, kept quiet. Following which Reverend Daoxuan turned around as if nothing had happened, with a kind expression spoke to the young disciples, “Everyone is here right, good, good.”

The disciples bowed at the same time, said, “Greetings to sect head Reverend.”

Reverend Daoxuan smiled, walked back to his seat, glanced at Cangsong Taoist, Cangsong Taoist immediately went forward, spoke in a loud voice, “Everyone, all of you are Qing Yun sect younger generation outstanding figures, our Qing Yun ever since it was founded, has been more than two thousand years, the orthodox Taoism, leader of the Good Faction. But there is an ancient saying: Mastery comes from learning through diligent but suffers from indolence. And another saying: Rowing a boat upstream and you will fall back if you stop moving forward. Our sect ancestors for generations, for the purpose of warning the later generations and guiding them, passed down ‘Seven Branches Martial Contest’, until today there is already a total of twenty contests.”

“Ah!” The disciples let out an astonished exclamation, twenty contests, with once every sixty years, it had already been one thousand two hundred years.

Cangsong Taoist looked with satisfaction at the group’s reactions, continued, “Till this day, our Qing Yun sect under sect head senior brother Daoxuan’s leadership, prosper and flourishing, far surpassed the past, the talented younger generation innumerable. Our sect head senior brother after discussing with the other branch leaders, specially allow the number of participants for this time to be increased to sixty four, to avoid regrets over unrecognized talents.”

Hearing this, Zhang Xiaofan subconsciously turned to glance at Tian Buyi, saw him sitting below Reverend Daoxuan, his face expressionless but his eyes revealing impatient. After All this matter of increasing the participants, on the surface it seemed like the branch leaders discussed but in reality, only Reverend Daoxuan and Cangsong Taoist decided on it.

Cangsong Taoist continued, “The contest this time, we have an increase of people and therefore there will also be changes regarding the drawing of lots. Everyone please look…” Speaking, he pointed to the right empty floor of the great hall, everyone looked over, saw a big red wooden chest there, squarish and only a small opening at the top about the size of an arm.

“In the red chest, there are a total of sixty three wax-coated pill, in them there is a strip of paper, written with numbers from one to sixty three…” There was a stir among the disciples, Cangsong Taoist ignored and continued, “After drawing lots, the competition will proceed using the numbers, one against sixty four, two against sixty three, three against sixty two...and the second round, the winners will compete against each other using the usual elimination arrangement until the final round. Everyone understand?”

The disciples were silent for a while, suddenly someone asked loudly, “Cangsong teacher uncle, there are obviously sixty four people, why are there sixty three wax pills?”

Cangsong Taoist seemed to be prepared for this question, coughed dryly, said, “The competition rule this time is that Qing Yun seven branches will send out nine disciples each, the eldest branch will send out an additional disciple but since one of the branch only send out eight disciples, there is only a total of sixty three participants.”

For a moment, everyone’s attention turned to Big Bamboo Valley branch leader Tian Buyi, a hint of anger flashed past his face but he sat motionless. The disciples started a hubbub, each holding their own discussions.

Until the group quieted down, Cangsong Taoist then spoke with a serious face, “But this is not any difficult task, among the sixty three pills, whoever picked the number one, the disciple will be extremely lucky, because there isn’t a sixty four numbered participant, therefore he will have passed the first round.”

Once the words were spoken, there was another round of hubbub but Qing Yun sect was after all a reputed big sect, their upbringings strict, although this way appeared rather funny but no one objected.

Reverend Daoxuan stood up, surveyed the surroundings, with his prestige as the sect head, immediately there was silence. Reverend Daoxuan nodded and said, “Since it is so, everyone will pick a lot.”

In the great hall, everyone’s gazes fell onto the red chest. First, ten disciples from the eldest branch walked out, they came to the chest and each drew out a pill, following which were the Longshou Valley’s disciples.

Lin Jingyu signaled to Zhang Xiaofan and walked out, Zhang Xiaofan watched his back figure and turned to the seven branch leaders and the various elders. Among them, from Reverend Daoxuan, Cangsong Taoist, Taoist Tianyun, Shang Zhengliang, Zeng Shuchang and the rest of the leaders he had met them five years ago, except for the lady taoist nun sitting at the last chair on the right side, but looking from her appearance, most likely she was the famous Small Bamboo Valley branch leader Shuiyue Master.

Zhang Xiaofan had been hearing about her from his senior brothers, knew that Small Bamboo Valley was the only branch in Qing Yun sect with only female disciples, Shuiyue Master herself was also highly skilled and reputed in Qing Yun. And Small Bamboo Valley disciples also performed well at the previous Seven Branches Martial Contest.

Zhang Xiaofan couldn’t help but take a few more glances at Shuiyue Master, saw her to be in her thirties, close to his teacher’s wife Suru, her face egg-shaped, graceful brows and full nose, a pair of bright almond eyes and wearing an ivory robe, elegant and charming. And behind her, there wasn’t any elders, instead a female disciple stood there, wearing white clothes like snow, extremely beautiful and a long sword was hung on her back. The sword sheath and scabbard were entirely sky-blue in colour, bright and lustrous, ripples of light flowed through indistinctly, one look and one would know it was a celestial treasure.

While he was in a daze, that young lady seemed to sense his gaze and suddenly turned around, her gaze like lightning, coldly stared at Zhang Xiaofan. Zhang Xiaofan’s heart felt a jolt, as if receiving a shock, both eyes actually felt as he was stabbed.

He got a shock, his face turned red but he saw that the lady was expressionless but her eyes indistinctly disdainful, quickly lowered his head. And at this awkward moment, someone pulled him, Tian Linger’s voice was heard saying, “Xiaofan, what are you staring in a daze at, it’s our turn to draw.”

Zhang Xiaofan quickly replied, “Yes, yes.” after speaking he dared not glanced at Shuiyue Master and turned to follow Tian Linger.

Right now only Big Bamboo Valley and Small Bamboo Valley had not picked their lots, Song Daren was the first, picked a pill and then walked back. Next, everyone started to check what numbers they had picked. Eight female disciples walked out from Small Bamboo Valley branch, Wenmin among them, the female in white spoke quietly to Shuiyue Master, Shuiyue Master nodded and said, “You go too.”

The female disciple acknowledged, joined her branch and smiled to Wenmin, they walked to the red chest and drew out the final nine pills.

At this moment, in the great hall, the disciples checked their pills, the various elders and branch leaders who were sitting above also couldn’t help but feel nervous too, they looked at their own branch disciples, each hoping their own picked a good lot, especially if their lots had the word, ‘one’ on it.

As if answering the elders’ thoughts, each one of the disciples started to read out,

“Ah, I am twenty six.”

“I am thirty-three, eh, what is your number?”

“Oh, I am forty seven, what is my opponent’s number, let me count…”

……

After hearing for half a day, not one said they picked number one.

Cangsong Taoist frowned, coughed twice and said loudly, “Who picked number one?”

His voice loud and clear, immediately suppressed all of the voices, a blanket of silence in the hall. After a long time, among the crowd, there was a tiny voice, with a trace of shock and cautiousness, seemed as if he himself couldn’t believe it, said, “Replying, replying Cangsong Taoist teacher uncle, it’s, it’s with me.”

Everyone looked over and couldn’t help but feel surprised, Zhang Xiaofan standing among the crowd, his hand holding a piece of paper, transfixed on his spot, his gaze instead looking at Tian Buyi, timidly speaking.    

Sunday, 17 November 2019

Chapter 18 - Infuriated Beast

Infuriated Beast

Song Daren, as if receiving a heavy blow, was stunned, the voice lingered in his ear, like celestial music, the next moment like arousing from a dream, in a flash turned around, saw five or six female disciples standing behind, from their outfits they looked to be from Qing Yun sect only female branch, Small Bamboo Valley.

And at the lead, facing them, was a beautiful lady with heart-shaped face, her hair like clouds, her skin like snow, a faint smile at her lips. Zhang Xiaofan looked at the lady, was about to ask which branch’s senior sister she was, unexpectedly when he turned around, from Wu Dayi to Zheng Dali and until He Dazhi, everyone’s face had a strange smile. Thinking to himself, he glanced at Song Daren and saw his big senior brother who was usually able and efficient, was smiling foolishly, looking like a fool, not knowing what to say. He pondered, and finally guessed this lady’s identity.

As expected, He Dazhi and the rest was waiting to watch the show from beside, unexpectedly Song Daren suddenly turned into a fool, not only Big Bamboo Valley disciples couldn’t take it, even the Small Bamboo Valley female disciples were giggling while covering their mouths. The lady standing before Song Daren blushed, softly called out, “Song senior brother.”

Before Song Daren could react, He Dazhi who was already feeling impatient, directly said, “Haha, Wenmin senior sister, I have not seen you too for many years, how have you been?”

Wenmin’s beautiful eyes shifted to this thin person and paused, smiled and said, “This must be He Dazhi senior brother?” 

He Dazhi nodded his head and said, “It is, Wenmin senior sister has a good memory, we have only met once sixty years ago and you are still able to remember me, I am really honoured.”

Wenmin smiled and said, “He senior brother in the last competition met a strong opponent, displayed your great prowess, naturally I will remember it.”

He Dazhi turned red, at the last ‘Seven branches martial contest’, in the first round he was already facing eldest branch Tongtian Peak’s martial expert, although he had tried his best but he was still defeated, but he was a shrewd person, laughed and let it passed, said, “Those old events, let’s not mention it, little brother’s shallow cultivation, compared against Wen senior sister and big senior brother, is far below. Speaking of which, ever since from the last contest, our big senior brother is always thinking of you.”

Wenmin’s face turned slightly red but did not reply, glanced sideways at Song Daren but her young junior sister laughed out instead. Song Daren, a burly big man, shrank back like a shy young man, quickly stammered and said, “No, no, when did I keep…”

“What?” before he could finish his words, he was interrupted by a young girl behind Wenmin, “So you don’t miss our Wenmin senior sister?”

Song Daren’s heart jumped, secretly glanced at Wenmin, saw Wenmin looking at him, her beautiful eyes unblinking. Feeling anxious, he burst out, “No...it’s not, I miss…”

“Ha!”

Big Bamboo Valley and Small Bamboo Valley members laughed together, especially those younger girls behind Wenmin, were especially loud, causing the other disciples who were nearby to glance over too.

He Dazhi waited till the laughter stopped, with a straight face said to Small Bamboo Valley ladies, “Ladies, actually our big senior brother didn’t mean that, not that he did not miss Wenmin senior sister and did not think of her all the time…”

“Then what is it?” one of Small Bamboo Valley ladies with a shriek asked. 

He Dazhi glanced at that lady, smiled and said, “He only, a minute thought of Wen senior sister once, then the next minute again chanted her name, therefore he did not think of her all the time.”

Everyone laughed loudly, Song Daren glared at He Dazhi but out of the corner of his eyes glanced at Wenmin, saw her smiling and did not seem angry, he secretly felt happy but still said, “Wen junior sister, they just love to joke around, you...you don’t mind them.”

Wenmin laughed, turned and first stopped her junior sisters who were laughing hard and then looked deep at him, said, “Then what is your own thoughts?”

Song Daren with a bitter face, stammered, “I, I, I” after a few times but was unable to say any words out, looking at his expression, the ladies couldn’t help but started to laugh again. Wenmin shook her head, glared at him and ignored him, walked over to Tian Linger, pulled her white jade hand, looked at her carefully and asked, “You must be Linger junior sister right?”

Tian Linger asked curiously, “Yes. Wen senior sister how did you know me?”

Wenmin smiled and said, “You have frequently accompanied Suru teacher aunt to our Small Bamboo Valley to visit teacher, we have long known you. Have not seen you for a few years, you have grown even prettier.”

Tian Linger held Wenmin’s hand, smiled and said, “Not so, how would I be prettier than Wen senior sister.” She lowered her voice, whispered, “My big senior brother has fallen head over heels for Wen senior sister.”

Wenmin glanced at Song Daren, Song Daren immediately revealed a silly smile, she shook her head, quietly said, “Your that big senior brother, is really a wooden head.”

Tian Linger burst out laughing, immediately felt she should have known this Wenmin senior sister earlier, Wenmin gently pulled, Tian Linger followed her to the group of Small Bamboo Valley and started to chat with them, soon she was part of them, chatting and laughing, leaving Song Daren and the rest cold.

Song Daren stood aside, wanted to go forward and chat with Wenmin but for a moment did not know what to say, only stood at where he was. Even Zhang Xiaofan also shook his head.

And at this moment, Zhang Xiaofan suddenly heard Du Bishu exclaimed and said, “More people are coming.”

Zhang Xiaofan feeling curious, turned and looked and paused. A group of people, about thirty of them, all of them wearing white, with a heroism air, it could also be said that they were strutting about. However, the first few were different, especially the one leading, white clothes like snow, dashing and charming, who would it be if it was not Qihao?

Qihao!

Zhang Xiaofan stared at the group that was approaching, repeated continuously in his heart, at the same time heard his fourth senior brother He Dazhi suddenly laughed and said, “Longshou Valley branch really overwhelmed with their numbers.”

Qihao by then had also saw Big Bamboo Valley and immediately came over, the people behind him also followed over. He cupped his hands towards Song Daren and smiled, “Song senior brother, we have meet again.”

Song Daren returned the gesture and said, “Qi senior brother, you have come too, would you be joining this round of competition too?”

Qihao smiled and said, “I did not want to join initially but our teacher feels that my cultivation still needs training and so ordered me to join, therefore I have to be thick-skinned and take up one slot from my branch.”

Song Daren nodded, smiled and said, “This is good too, with Qi senior brother’s talent, the winner would definitely be you.”

Qihao shook his head, humbly said, “Yours words are too kind, Song senior brother.”

Both of them exchanged pleasantries, Zhang Xiaofan was instead searching with his eyes behind Qihao and as expected the next moment, Lin Jingyu who was standing behind also swept his gaze over, seemed to be looking for something too. Both of their eyes met, extremely delighted, at the same time walked out, held each other hands, thousands of words to say but for a moment speechless.

After a long time, Lin Jingyu said, “Xiaofan, are you joining the contest too?”

Zhang Xiaofan nodded and said, “Yes, teacher is very good to me, he allows me to join, how about you?”

Lin Jingyu said, “I am joining too, humpf, what is good about your short teacher, two years ago I went over, he treated you like that…”

Zhang Xiaofan hurriedly said, “No, he is not like that usually, that day he was only angry.”

Lin Jingyu did not want to disrupt the good feelings after meeting his good friend, changed the topic and said, “You this fellow, not seen for two years and you have grown so tall?”

Zhang Xiaofan threw him a punch, laughed and said, “Why, only you can grow tall and I can’t?”

Lin Jingyu laughed loudly, both of them continued to chat, this time without their seniors around, they could chat about anything and others did not bother them too. Just that as time passed, Zhang Xiaofan advertently turned around, saw Qihao was standing together with Tian Linger and the other ladies, his heart felt pain and even his expression changed.

Lin Jingyu noticed it, asked in surprised, “What is it Xiaofan?”

Zhang Xiaofan shook his head, forced a smile and said, “Nothing.” But his eyes were still looking at Qihao.

Qihao was already with Tian Linger and Wenmin, he smiled and greeted Tian Linger, said, “Tian junior sister, do you still remember me?”

Tian Linger had been chatting happily with Wenmin and the rest of the Small Bamboo Valley, when Qihao appeared, for some reason, her face turned red and her voice lowered, “Yes, hi Qi senior brother.”

Looking from afar, Tian Linger’s beautiful face had a slight flush, her bright eyes looked dazed but this beautiful face reflecting in Zhang Xiaofan’s eyes, was like cutting him with a knife, the pain deep inside his heart.

“Xiaofan, what happened to you, why are you turning so pale?” Lin Jingyu did not understand and asked with concern, “Are you sick?”

“Nothing, I am well.” Zhang Xiaofan quietly replied.

In the distance, Wenmin was sharp-witted and guessed what happened by looking at Tian Linger’s face, and so asked Qihao, “Qi senior brother, why, did you only know Tian junior sister and not noticing us Small Bamboo Valley sisters?”

After speaking, the other ladies behind her also chipped in, Qihao quickly said, “Wen senior sister you are teasing me, how would I dare to disrespect the senior sisters from Small Bamboo Valley?”

Wenmin with a light laugher, said, “Qi senior brother you are joining the Seven Branches Martial Contest again, most probably you are determined to win?”

Qihao’s eyes flashed, said, “Wen senior sister at the last competition, passed three rounds in succession but pity that you lost to eldest branch Xiao Yicai senior brother. I guessed after another sixty years of cultivation, including Shuiyue Master’s devoted training, now as Small Bamboo Valley’s number one martial expert, most likely you are also heading for the championship?”

Wenmin smiled and said, “Dare not, dare not, how would I dare to fight with Qi senior brother, and the title, Small Bamboo Valley’s number one martial artist, I would not dare to take on it.”

Qihao frowned and said, “Wen senior sister, you are too polite…”

Wenmin smiled and said, “Oh no, our teacher Shuiyue Master has broad vast knowledge, my aptitude is meagre, unable to receive her true skills, our branch has other talented sisters, Qi senior brother must be careful”

The glint in Qihao’s eyes brightened but his face was still smiling, said, “As such this is good, I guess even Wen senior sister is in awe, this person must be an outstanding talent, little brother me really wants to meet her.”

Wenmin with a light laugh, nodded and did not speak anymore, pulled the unwilling Tian Linger away.

And at this moment, a sharp whistle was heard from above, like a shock of thunder, it shocked the entire place. Several hundred Qing Yun disciples looked up, saw a red light shot over and stopped above them, a red celestial sword emitting celestial aura, horizontally hovering, a Tongtian Peak Taoist was standing on it, with a clear loud voice said, “Various senior brothers, sect head Reverend and various branch leaders instructed, those participating in the ‘Seven Branches Martial Contest’ please enter the Crystal Jade Hall.”

The mountain breeze blew over, white clouds drifting, the disciples stirred and started to head towards the Hall.

Zhang Xiaofan thought those highly skilled disciples would be taking flight but seemed like nobody had the intention to. He walked with Lin Jingyu and looked around, Tian Linger was walking together with Small Bamboo Valley ladies, smiling broadly and looked to be in a good mood, Song Daren and the rest followed behind her.

As for Longshou Valley, seven or eight people walked out from Qihao’s group but they walked to another area, greeted several other branches’ disciples who were walking out at the same time, especially Qihao, called out several names familiarity, the other branches disciples also received him with smiles, he seemed to be popular.

“Qi senior brother makes friends easily.” Lin Jingyu said after noticing Zhang Xiaofan kept staring at Qihao, “And he is highly skilled and one of Cangsong Taoist’s favourites, therefore everyone give him lots of faces in Qing Yun sect.”

Zhang Xiaofan heard it, was expressionless, only nodded.

At the end of the ground, it was Qing Yun six sceneries, ‘Rainbow Bridge’, Zhang Xiaofan and Lin Jingyu once walked past here after being rescued up to Qing Yun five years ago, now that they were at the same place again.

Stepping up onto the celestial-like bridge, watching the clear water streams flowing down from both sides of the bridge, shooting out beautiful rainbows, the two naive young boys five years ago, now were already Qing Yun sect disciples. Walking at the rear, Lin Jingyu suddenly sighed and said, “Five years already!”

Zhang Xiaofan was silent, only continued on. The scene before him was the same, following the rise of the bridge, white clouds gradually gathered at his feet, the clear blue skies over his head.

“Why don’t you wield your sword and fly up?” Zhang Xiaofan suddenly asked.

Lin Jingyu looking surprised, said, “Don’t you know? Our disciple rank are not allowed to fly around Tongtian Peak main hall. I heard Qihao senior brother said before, firstly this is out of respect to the eldest branch to walk on sacred grounds; secondly since Qing Yun sect was built, our founders in order to protect this place, once set powerful spell, ‘Zhu Xian Sword Formation’ on this Tongtian Peak summit, and anyone who flew into here will be killed by the formation.”

Zhang Xiaofan was surprised, said, “No wonder so many highly skilled experts and not one flew. Right, is that ‘Zhu xian sword formation’ powerful?”

Lin Jingyu gazed up at the lofty mountain ahead, said, “I did not see it before but I guessed it is. Heard that this formation was passed down from our ancestors and until Qing Ye Founder, it was perfected, its power unsurpassable. And from then on, nobody dared to come and make trouble at Qing Yun Hill!”

Zhang Xiaofan followed his gaze and looked at the lofty mountain, exclaimed, “So powerful!”

Both of them chatted and walked on, following the rest and passed through the bridge. On the way up, Zhang Xiaofan looked at the young talents, among the sixty plus people, males made up the majority, the female disciples most likely only about thirteen or fourteen and most of them wearing Small Bamboo Valley uniforms. But no matter whether it was male or female, everyone of them had the aura, the males had impressive bearing, the females beautiful and gracious, no matter who saw them, would say Qing Yun sect have successors, would go far and long.

Passing the bridge, they came to the Jade Pool. Compared to five years ago, the spiritual beast, Water Kylin, was sunbathing at the lakeside instead of submerging in the water. However, looking at its lazy look, it did not seem different from five years ago.

Passing by, the disciples bowed respectfully towards the majestic beast and continued onto the stairs beside the lake. Lin Jingyu quietly said to Zhang Xiaofan, “Do you still remember the first time we came?”

Zhang Xiaofan nodded and said, “I remembered, not only we were drenched but it was a fright looking at such a big beast.”

Lin Jingyu smiled and said, “Yes, in the past at Grasstemple Village, we had never seen anything like this, I thought the biggest animal was Qing Yun Hill’s bears.”

Zhang Xiaofan burst out laughing, the others turned around, Zhang Xiaofan quickly stiffled his laughter. Lin Jingyu also was surprised and coughed dryly twice, his face red.

The others turned around and continued on, Zhang Xiaofan heaved a sigh of relief, turned and glanced at Lin Jingyu, both looked at each other and smiled.    

Soon they walked down the bridge and came to the lake, and bowed to the Water Kylin.The Water Kylin was dozing deeply, had no reaction to whoever was bowing to it, its snores like thunder.

The both of them never thought that the Water Kylin would pay any attention to them, after bowing, they walked up the stairs. Zhang Xiaofan said, “Jingyu, the last time you came to Big Bamboo Valley, it was all in a rush and I didn’t have time to congratulate you. Didn’t expect that in such a short time, you have achieved such a high level of cultivation.”

Lin Jingyu smiled and said, “This is all credit to my teacher Cangsong Taoist and the other senior brothers’ teachings.” He paused and lowered his voice, “Actually in the first few years, whenever I was working hard, my mind would recall the bloody scenes from Grasstemple Village and I would be very upset, and from then on, I was determined to train hard and hope that one day I can seek revenge for my parents and the villagers.”

Zhang Xiaofan’s heart felt heavy, patted his shoulder. Lin Jingyu calmed himself, smiled and said, “Alright, let’s not talk about the past. How about you, how is your cultivation?”

Zhang Xiaofan shook his head, said, “You know that I am not as clever as you since young, these few years at Big Bamboo Valley, teacher and the other senior brothers treat me very well but I am too stupid, my cultivation has not made much progress, I have really let my teacher and big senior brother down.”

Lin Jingyu snorted, said, “How would you be stupid, I think most likely it is because that short teacher of yours deliberately make things difficult for you, did not pass you the true Qing Yun sect cultivation trainings.”

Zhang Xiaofan did not expect that the fight two years ago, Lin Jingyu was still bearing a grudge against Tian Buyi, smiled and said, “It can’t be, my teacher is not that sort of person. Forget it, don’t talk about me, oh right, is your weapon still that ‘Dragon Slayer Sword’ as two years ago?”

Lin Jingyu nodded, said, “This celestial sword is Longshou Valley’s treasure, by my teacher’s grace I received the sword, other than its mighty power, it also has a spiritual intelligence, extremely helpful to my training.”

Zhang Xiaofan was envious, his face also revealed it, “That is great.”

Lin Jingyu smiled and asked, “Then how about you, Xiaofan, what weapon did you have?”

Zhang Xiaofan was stunned, subconsciously touched that black ‘Firestick’ in his bosom. A trace of chill, scurried up his palm.

“Nothing.” He quietly said, “My cultivation is not enough, I am still unable to wield weapons.”

Lin Jingyu did not mind, as if he had already expected, consoled him, “It’s alright Xiaofan, as long as you work hard, you will surely succeed, anyway we are still young, just take it that we are here to experience.”

Zhang Xiaofan’s lips moved, looked at his old friend’s friendly face, hearing his warm words, but did not feel console at all.

To gain experience?

Everyone assumed he was only here to gain experience, thinking about it, he felt an inexplicable anger in his heart, like a ball of fire burning deep within him, but it disappeared in a flash. He lowered his head, did not speak, not even had the thought to begrudge his friend, because he realized that even he himself also thought it was so. 
     
As if resonating his thoughts, the firestick in his hand, suddenly had a reaction, the chill increased and spread from his palm to his shoulder.

Zhang Xiaofan was surprised but soon realized the feeling was not doing any harm to his body, instead it was chilling, rather comfortable. He looked beside and saw that Lin Jingyu had no reaction.

And when Zhang Xiaofan was about to relax, suddenly, a deafening roar erupted behind them. Even Lin Jingyu who was higher skilled than him had a shock, his entire body shook, ears ringing non-stopped, and the disciples walking before him, had the same reaction.

Everyone was stunned! On this sacred ground, why would there be such a strange roar? As they looked around, they realized that the huge Water Kylin who had been dozing, was awake and staring at them with ferocious eyes, the hair on its back stood up, opening its predator’s mouth and revealing two long sharp fangs, an attack stance. And his target was the disciples standing at the stairs. 

Friday, 1 November 2019

Chapter 17 - Keeping appointment

Keeping appointment

On this morning Qing Yun sect Big Bamboo Valley members were all excited, especially the disciples, everyone smiling broadly, although somehow a little nervous but mostly submerged in the excitedness.

Among the group, the ones who had participated in the previous Qing Yun sect ‘Seven branches Martial Art Competition’ were big senior brother Song Daren and lao er Wu Dayi, lao san Zheng Dali, lao si He Dazhi and as for lao wu Lu Daxin, lao liu Du Bishu were all newly recruited by Tian Buyi in the last several years, including young Tian Linger and Zhang Xiaofan, all had not witnessed Qing Yun sect’s diamond jubilee event.

Tian Linger was the happiest at this moment, taking the opportunity where Tian Buyi and her mother were making the final preparations, she pestered the one with the most experience Song Daren, asking questions incessantly, “Big senior brother, are there really many contestants from the other branches at the contest?”

Song Daren smiled, evidently he was also in a good mood, said, “That’s right, the competition is our sect biggest event, all the branches view it highly. And the various fellow senior brothers, juniors who are able to enter and represent their branches, all are outstanding talents, not to even mention the prestige and adrenaline.”

This time, lao si He Dazhi heard it, walked over, slyly blinked his eyes at Tian Linger, said, “Little junior sister, there are some things you don’t know, actually big senior brother still has some things that he didn't reveal.”

Tian Linger with an “Ah”, disregarding Song Daren’s stunned expression, asked, “What is it fourth senior brother?”

He Dazhi smiled and said, “The live contests, more than hundreds of our members will crowd around and watch, the winner receiving the thunderous applause from the audience, that proud moment is unavoidable, but if there are some new beautiful young junior sisters of other branches cheering in joy in awe of big senior brother, wouldn’t that be an even bigger joyous event in one’s lifetime?” After speaking, he turned with a straight face towards Song Daren and said, “Big senior brother, don’t you agree?”

Song Daren suddenly turned red.

Tian Linger saw it, found it puzzling, asked, “Big senior brother, why is your face suddenly red?”

Song Daren shook his head like a drum-shaped rattle, quickly said, “No, no, my face is not red…”

He Dazhi coughed and noticed other senior and junior brothers had crowded around, the younger ones like Du Bishu and Zhang Xiaofan looked puzzled but Wu Dayi and Zheng Dali were smiling, and said, “Aiya, second and third senior brothers are also here, my memory isn’t good recently, it seemed like at the last competition, big senior brother won two rounds consecutively and at the third round, there was a beautiful young junior sister, ah, I have forgotten her name…”

Wu Dayi was full of smiles, said, “Hmm name, we have all forgotten, but that person, giving the loudest applause and big senior brother and her making eyes at each other, we all remembered her look.”

“Wa!”

Once the words were out, everyone exclaimed loudly, Tian Linger was the first to ask, “Big senior brother, which senior sister it is, that actually treats you so well?”

Song Daren was embarrassed, hatefully glared at He Dazhi, dryly laughed and said, ”No, no there is no such thing, don’t listen to your fourth senior brother’s nonsense, Small Bamboo Valley Wenmin junior sister was only giving teacher’s wife face and cheering us more.”

“Eh?” He Dazhi immediately replied, “Big senior brother, this is strange, second and third senior brothers and me don’t even know that person’s name, how are you able to say out her name that fast? But come to think of it, Wenmin senior sister really treats Big senior brother well…” 

Everyone burst out laughing, Song Daren knew he had made a slip of his tongue and knew he could not outwit He Dazhi who was the number one witty guy at Big Bamboo Valley, he would only make more mistakes if he spoke more and so snorted, put on his thick face, with a dry laugh said, “Senseless people, hehe, I am going to check on teacher and teacher’s wife if they are ready.”

Tian Linger wanted to continue asking but Song Daren escaped faster than the wind, with a blink he was gone, and so caught hold of He Dazhi, with her bright and excited eyes, looked at him and asked, “Fourth senior brother, quickly tell me, how does that Wenmin senior sister look like?”

He Dazhi laughed and said, “Little junior sister, don’t you often go back with teacher’s wife to visit Shuiyue Master at Small Bamboo Valley, why haven you seen Wenmin senior sister? She is Shuiyue Master favourite disciple.”

Tian Linger shook her head said, “We always go to Shuiyue Master directly, didn’t have the chance to know other senior sister, quickly describe to me!”

He Dazhi laughed and said, “Be patient, be patient, today we are going to the competition at the main branch Tongtian Peak, most likely you will be able to see her.”

Tian Linger with a “oh”, her eyes looking around and seemed to realize something, said, “No wonder big senior brother is so excited and full of spirit this morning, he actually has something up his sleeves!”

Everyone was stunned and then understood, laughed out loud, Tian Linger was laughing herself too, the nervousness regarding the competition also dissipated. Her eyes looked around, saw everyone was smiling and in good mood but when she glanced at Zhang Xiaofan, she was surprised, Zhang Xiaofan although was smiling but Tian Linger who had been the closest to him for the past few years, knew he seemed to be bothering about something.

While the rest were chatting happily, Tian Linger quietly pulled Zhang Xiaofan aside, whispered, “Xiaofan, what is it?”

Zhang Xiaofan was taken aback, his lips moved and he subconsciously rubbed his chest with his right hand, finally said, “I am alright senior sister.”

Tian Linger looked at him, asked directly, “What is it, let me see?”

Zhang Xiaofan hesitated, took out the object, showed it to Tian Linger, Tian Linger was surprised and said, “Why are you carrying this black firestick around for?”

Zhang Xiaofan saw her shocked and angry face, even so, she was still beautiful, his voice faltering, “Teacher is gracious to let me participate, my cultivation is low, I did not have any weapon and did not know how to use…”

Tian Linger was enlightened but couldn’t help but laugh and said, “Ah, he he, I see, so you are bringing this firestick to participate in the competition? For two thousand years in Qing Yun sect, it is already strange to have sixth senior brother with his dice weapon, didn’t expect that...didn’t expect that you…you actually...brought along a firestick...ha ha, this is so funny.”

The others heard Tian Linger laughing and came over, after understanding the reason, they couldn’t help but laugh too, Zhang Xiaofan saw all of them laughing, his heart suddenly filled with anger.

The anger inside him instantly died but it was so intense and almost suffocated Zhang Xiaofan.

He hung his head, held the firestick tightly, a familiar cold feeling travelled to his palm.

“Xiaofan,” Tian Linger suddenly stopped laughing, seriously said, “I am sorry.”

Zhang Xiaofan’s body shook, he looked up.

Tian Linger said, “I wanted to give you a weapon for the sake of our branch and also in case you will be laughed at by the other branches. But the past few days Mum has been pressing me about my cultivation and I forgot about it.”

Zhang Xiaofan subconsciously shook his head, said, “Senior sister, your cultivation is important, don’t have to worry about me.”

Tian Linger patted his shoulder, “But it isn’t much too, everyone know about your aptitude, this trip is only to gain experience.” She lowered her voice, “If anyone bully you, you must come and tell me, humpf, I will seek revenge for you immediately.”

Zhang Xiaofan saw his senior sister’s concerned gaze, he had no doubts about her promise, even the kind intentions conveyed in the rest’s conversations, he too felt it.

But, but, what emotions was it that was so turbulent, what kind of fire was it in his heart that burned fiercely and made him almost unable to breathe?

Tian Linger was still smiling, patted her favourite little junior brother’s shoulder, quietly said, “Alright, I'll tell you, there are many fun places to go at Tongtian Peak, let’s go sneak out and play on this trip, oki?”

That beautiful face wavered in front of Zhang Xiaofan, suddenly he dared not look her in the eyes, lowered his head, his heart felt sweetness and troubled, the young heartaches, for a moment he had conflicting emotions, quietly said, “Yes, senior sister.”

Tian Linger smiled broadly, He Dazhi was heard speaking behind, “Teacher and teacher’s wife are here.”

Everyone turned around, Tian Buyi and Suru came out from the Observed Silence Hall. Tian Linger was wearing a long blue robe, his demeanour dignified, if it was not for his short stature and his belly increased in size a little, he really conveyed a revered master demeanour. As for Suru, everyone’s eyes brightened, her usual appearance already surpassed the others but today she was wearing a light green dress, her hair adorned with flower engraved jade, gold hairpin, her eyebrows were drawn, her skin fair as white jade, her gaze like water, her red lips smiling, mesmerizing all of them.

Song Daren followed behind them, his face solemn. However, once the disciples saw him, everyone had hid their smiles. And behind Song Daren, Da Huang and Xiao Hui also came along. Xiao Hui seemed to be accustomed to riding on Da Huang’s back, and when it saw Zhang Xiaofan ahead, [zhi zhi zhi zhi] it called out, leapt down from Da Huang and scurried to Zhang Xiaofan, in two or three leaps it was up to his shoulder.

Tian Buyi looked at his disciples, nodded and said, “Let’s go.”

After speaking, he waved his right hand, the spot where his hand formula formed, red light flashed, the well-known celestial sword ‘Scarlet Fire’ wielded, red light resplendent for ten thousands of zhang, what he was holding was a celestial weapon. Tian Buyi was about to step forward, suddenly his robe was pulled, he turned back and saw that it was Da Huang, Da Huang which he had raised from young, was shaking its head, its mouth [wu wu] while still holding on his robe and whimpering at the same time, its tail wagging hard, its eyes looking up at Tian Buyi unblinking.

Tian Buyi hesitated for a moment, muttered something, waved his sleeve and swept up Da Huang, following which his body floated to the Scarlet Fire sword, made a greeting to Suru and then left.

Suru laughed lightly and shook her head, said to the rest, “You all come along too.” pausing for a moment, said to Song Daren, “Daren, Xiaofan’s cultivation is not enough, you bring him along.”

Song Daren nodded and said, “Yes.”

Suru nodded, without making any gesture, a faint green light flashed past, seemed to match her clothes and carried her up the sky, following Tian Buyi’s scarlet light.

Big Bamboo Valley disciples, Wu Dayi, Zheng Dali and Lu Daxin had not reached fourth level yet too, and unable to wield their weapons to fly. Song Daren walked towards Zhang Xiaofan, as for He Dazhi, Du Bishu and Tian Linger each brought along one person and went on their ways. Among them, Tian Linger’s weapon was Scarlet Silk, He Dazhi was a Jiangsha Brush, which suited his bookworm nature, but the most comical was lao liu Du Bishu’s dice weapon, once it was wielded, white light flashed and the three dices expanded ten times, spinning continuously in the sky, different numbers appearing in turns, comparing against the world’s gambling tools, none surpassed it.

Lao wu Lu Daxin looked at it carefully, with a bitter face he said to Du Bishu, “Lao liu, this thing of yours won’t fall off from the sky right?”

Du Bishu raised his eyebrow, mischievously said, “Fifth senior brother, why not we make a bet, if it falls from the sky, you win, I will…”

Lu Daxin made [pei pei pei] sounds, said, “Would I still dare to win this bet?”

Du Bishu was stunned and said, “That is true too!”

Song Daren walked over to Zhang Xiaofan, smiled and said, “Xiaofan, are you ready?”

Zhang Xiaofan was about to nod, suddenly Xiao Hui shrieked out, both of them got a shock, saw Xiao Hui pointed to the sky and then pointed to itself while looking at Zhang Xiaofan, Zhang Xiaofan was surprised, said, “You wanted to go too?”

Xiao Hui grinned, Zhang Xiaofan hesitated, looked at Song Daren, Song Daren thought for a moment, smiled and said, “Anyway teacher brought along Da Huang, let’s bring Xiao Hui too.”

Zhang Xiaofan was happy, nodded, Xiao Hui was even happier.

Song Daren turned and said to the rest, “Let’s us all go, if not we will be scolded if we are late.” The rest agreed and each wielded their weapons and flew off, Tian Linger instructed Zhang Xiaofan before leaving, “Be careful, must hold tight on senior brother.”

Zhang Xiaofan nodded, said, “I know, senior sister.”

Tian Linger smiled at him, with her hand formula, ‘Scarlet Silk’ glowed and flew. Song Daren also wielded his weapon, ‘Ten Tigers’. He was the most senior disciple of Big Bamboo Valley, although his junior brothers had different weapons but his weapon was still celestial sword.

‘Ten Tigers’ was yellow in color, four chi long and three fingers wide, its shape was considered big in the medium celestial sword category, but its power could not be determined by its shape. Song Daren pulled Zhang Xiaofan up, Zhang Xiaofan had experience riding on a weapon from Tian Linger, when the ‘Ten Tiger’ sank down, he quickly stood firm and was not taken aback, instead it was Xiao Hui who seemed to know something and grabbed Zhang Xiaofan’s head tightly.

Song Daren smiled and said, “Little junior brother, let’s go.”

After speaking, his right hand formed a sword formula and pointed at the sky, ‘Ten Tigers’ made a low rumble, rose three chi high from one chi height, Zhang Xiaofan subconsciously grabbed tight of Song Daren.

This moment, a mountain breeze blew over, ‘Ten Tigers’ sword tip slowly headed up, about seventy percent tilted, Zhang Xiaofan was completely leaning and holding tight on Song Daren so as not to fall down, with a sharp whistle, ‘Ten Tigers’ shot up.

Zhang Xiaofan stood on the celestial sword, hugged Song Daren tightly, although he was feeling nervous but he couldn’t bear to close his eyes. As they left the Big Bamboo Valley lush mountains further behind them, whiteness filled his gaze, they had entered the thick clouds and nothing could be seen.

Vast clouds surrounded them completely, big gusts of wind whistling incessantly, cutting painfully against their faces, Zhang Xiaofan shivered, partly being nervous and partly excited.

Traversing through Qing Yun white clouds, it was inconceivable!

The vast white clouds, not knowing how long they had travelled, Zhang Xiaofan’s emotions gradually calmed down but as if it wanted to give him another surprise, ‘Ten Tigers’ amidst the sharp whistlings, dashed out of the clouds.

The limitless blue sky, like an inverted deep sea, the blue looked almost pure and transparent, bounderless, magnificent and majestic.  

When they dashed out, the white clouds were like waves foam, rolling away from their momentum, as if lingering, like light waves of the great river, drifted to the mid sky and then slowly descended, back to the clouds of sea.

‘Ten Tigers’ charged up the sky, leaving the vast sea of clouds about three hundred zhang high, Song Daren leveled the sword and headed towards Tongtian Peak.

In the distant, a high majestic mountain summit towered into the clouds, no, towered into the sky, standing tall and lofty. There, white clouds drifted like mist, bell sounds reverberate indistinctly in the firmament.

Tongtian Peak, as if they were really going into the blue sky.

Zhang Xiaofan held his breath, gazed far, in the infinite sky, beside the majestic summit, numerous colour beams danced, approaching Tongtian Peak, those light rays gradually got denser.

Zhang Xiaofan knew those were Qing Yun sect disciples’ weapons, due to the differing five elements and colours, it looked colourful, extremely beautiful. Looking at those rays like coloured stones rain, all gushing towards the mountain peak, the scenery spectacular. And they were going the same way as ‘Ten Tigers’ and soon they merged into the colourful flow of light.

Accompanying the whistling, Song Daren with Zhang Xiaofan landed on a huge ground, once landed, the monkey Xiao Hui peered around and then jumped down, jumping here and there at the open ground, extremely excited. Zhang Xiaofan ignored him, looked around, saw the white jade banisters, celestial energy in waves, the middle of the ground stood nine big copper cauldrons, placed in rows of three. The most surprising thing was, on this ground, clouds rising, it was as if they were walking among the clouds, making one feel like a celestial.

Zhang Xiaofan looked at it, felt it was all familiar, recalled that this was the place where he first saw the sea of clouds listed as one of Qing Yun’s six sceneries. After five years, it looked the same, not much changes and still that beautiful and dreamy, but today was much bustling than five years ago.

At the ground, it was already bustling, the disciples who came to participate, temporarily stopped here, gazing far ahead, crowds moving back and forth, most likely several hundred people in it. Those people at the ground, most wearing Qing Yun uniforms, some Taoism some secular, there were men and women, the younger generation a majority, there were many full of heroic spirits too. It could be seen that Qing Yun had made vigorous efforts to build itself and groomed its young disciples.

Although there were several hundred people on the ground but the place still appeared to be spacious. Song Daren looked around, heard a clear voice shouting, “Big senior brother, we are here.”

They looked towards the voice, it was the Big Bamboo Valley people, the one shouting would of course be Tian Linger, they stood beside one of the big cauldrons, Tian Linger was waving to them.

Song Daren acknowledged and walked over with Zhang Xiaofan, on their way, Zhang Xiaofan looked all around, saw the other branches’ disciples congregated in groups around, each chatting excitedly, guessed everyone was full of hopes for the martial competition.

They reached the group and He Dazhi who was standing behind Tian Linger spoke first, “Big senior brother, was your journey alright?”

Song Daren smiled and said, “This is not my first time here, what else could happen?”

Tian Linger glanced at Zhang Xiaofan, smiled and said, “Xiaofan, how was the scenery along the way?”

Zhang Xiaofan recalled the magnificant view in the sky, genuinely said, “It was spectacular.”

Tian Linger laughed, patted his shoulder, said, “Next time you work harder and you will be able to fly after getting your weapon, and you can fly up the blue sky everyday to watch to your heart’s content.”

Zhang Xiaofan did not reply but he smiled and solemnly nodded.

Song Daren looked around, asked He Dazhi, “Fourth junior brother, where’s teacher and teacher’s wife?”

He Dazhi said, “We followed teacher and his wife here, those receiving fellow senior brothers led teacher and teacher’s wife to Jade Qing, said to gather the seven branches leaders for a meeting and discuss the details of the competition. Teacher instructed us to wait here.”

Song Daren nodded and then waved, summoned the others and looked around, said quietly, “Why are there so many unfamiliar faces at the other branches, since you all arrived first, did you all hear any news?”

He Dazhi shook his head, said, “I have the same feeling too, seems like these few years our sect branches have recruited a number of newcomers.”

Lao er Wu Dayi looked around, said, “There are indeed many newcomers but I guess for tomorrow's contest at the stage, most probably it will still be the same senior trained brothers, afterall comparing their cultivations, it will still be them…”

Song Daren suddenly sighed, said, “Second junior brother, it may not be so, do you still remember that young disciple from Longshou Valley, Lin Jingyu?”

Wu Dayi was stunned, and then silent, the group looked at each other and did not speak too, only Zhang Xiaofan’s face revealed a complicated emotion for a moment, a mix of joy and envy, and a little jealousy.

“What is that fellow?” suddenly someone coldly spoke.

Everyone was surprised, it was Tian Linger, saw her face was slightly flushed, her beautiful eyes wide, hatefully said, “It will be fine if he did not participate in this competition, if he dare to come, best if he match me and I will duel with him again to determine a winner!”

The Big Bamboo Valley disciples looked at each other, lao liu Du Bishu had always been sharp-witted, his reaction was the quickest, said, “Little junior sister is extremely right, if there is really such a coincidence, hehe, senior brothers, why don’t we make a bet, see who wins and who loses…”

“Shoo shoo shoo!” Lao wu Lu Daxin who was standing beside kicked him away.

Song Daren smiled, was about to speak and suddenly heard a light cough behind, a girl’s voice softly spoke, “Song senior brother, it has been a while.”