That was the kind of man Elder Sang was.
If he didnt approve of you, he couldnt care less if you lived or died.
But if he did approve of you, he would regard you as a precious treasure, and he wouldnt allow anyone to take you away from him.
In his eyes, therein lay the difference in worth between the nine founding elders and Xu Xiaoshou…
They were worlds apart.
He eyed the silent young man, then turned to Xiao Qixiu with his straw hat in hand.
“Our plan to capture the masked figure tonight failed.
We underestimated his strength.
He killed two Inner Yard disciples before escaping with ease.”
After a slight pause, he added.
“Thats what well announce to the others.”
Xiao Qixiu was stupefied.
He gave Ye Xiaotian a look.
Ye Xiaotian was staring at Elder Sang in astonishment.
It appeared that he was still in shock from the old mans bewildering antics.
Elder Sang grinned cheekily.
“If you still want that arm of yours, you should nod and agree.”
Ye Xiaotian remained silent.
He clutched his broken arm.
The wound had stopped bleeding, but without an accomplished alchemist, it might not heal.
Ye Xiaotian sank into deep contemplation.
A long moment later, Xu Xiaoshou watched as the snowy-haired child hovering in midair nodded lightly.
Xiao Qixiu nodded sullenly as well.
Xu Xiaoshou was flabbergasted.
The Chief Elder of the Spiritual Law Division, who was renowned for his impartiality, had given in because of a few words from the Elder Sang
Was this the power that authority and status granted
He could die from sheer happiness!
Xu Xiaoshou was overjoyed when he realized that they were simply going to let go of the fact that hed killed someone tonight.
It made sense.
He wouldve had grounds for an argument if it had come to that.
Of course, hed rather avoid having to go through the trouble of doing that in the first place.
No sane person would want to be tried by the Spiritual Law Division!
Xiao Qixiu didnt allow his attention to linger on such a small matter.
His eyes started to glimmer with a familiar excitement as he stared at Elder Sang.
“About that masked figure…”
Elder Sang eyed the tender skin that had regrown on Xiao Qixius chest.
“Youve had a taste, havent you Why do you ask when you already know the answer”
“Is it really him”
The two men were speaking in riddles and confusing Xu Xiaoshou.
His curiosity was piqued.
“Who is he”
Three pairs of piercing eyes turned to stare at him, and Xu Xiaoshou slowly inched away from the trio.
“Youre the ones who told me to stay.
Sure, keep your gossip to yourself.
But why are you ostracizing me…” he protested weakly.
The other three men were baffled.
Elder Sang patted Xu Xiaoshou on the shoulder.
“Focus on your cultivation.
This isnt something you should get yourself involved in right now.”
That only served to amplify his curiosity.
Who was this masked figure
He was obviously a swordsman who had once tried to battle purely with his Sword Will.
Xu Xiaoshou recalled what the swordsman had said at first.
His words of advice had seemed earnest.
The journey to battle purely with ones Sword Will appeared to end in a dead-end.
Yet, how could a dead end give one such power
He had taken on the whole Tiansang Spirit Palace alone.
Xu Xiaoshou felt an unbearable itch niggling at him.
The key to unlocking the puzzle that was confounding him was right in front of him.
But no one was willing to let him have it.
“Alright, lets go.”
Elder Sang shook his head and gazed heavenward.
The skies had brightened.
The air was crisp after the rain.
Xiao Qixiu took his leave.
Ye Xiaotian wouldnt stop staring at Xu Xiaoshou.
Xu Xiaoshou had no clue why he was looking at him like that.
From the air, his childlike voice chimed, “You are the current champion of the Windcloud Competition.”
Xu Xiaoshou nodded dumbly.
He didnt know what Ye Xiaotian wanted from him.
“You may join the Inner Yard.”
What was going on
Hed fought tooth and nail and had even gone to h*ll and back to earn himself a place in the Inner Yard, yet failed.
Now it turned out all hed needed to get in was a few words from Ye Xiaotian
Elder Sang rolled his eyes and gave Ye Xiaotian a loud smack on the head.
The snowy-haired child glared at him sullenly.
“What are you talking about Tell those old geezers that Xu Xiaoshou doesnt need to join the Inner Yard!”
“But I do!” Xu Xiaoshou moaned inwardly.
He was still a little confused though, so he decided to hold his tongue and watch how things played out.
The snowy-haired child simply glared at Elder Sang, then left.
He simply upped and left…
Xu Xiaoshou staggered backward.
What did that mean Did he have a place in the Inner Yard or not
Couldnt someone just give him a straight answer
The uncertainty was driving him nuts!
“Ye Xiaotian, be more decisive in the future.
How many times have I told you Never hesitate to break things off when you have to!” Elder Sang hollered at the snowy-haired child as the latter flew away.
As a reminder to Elder Sang to not forget about treating his arm, Ye Xiaotian waved the severed limb in the air before disappearing into the distance.
Xu Xiaoshou withdrew his gaze.
It was then that he realized he was now alone with Elder Sang.
He could feel a headache coming on.
He was at Goose Lake.
With this old geezer.
Memories of pain and suffering came flooding back once more.
“I suppose Ill be on my way, then,” he said tentatively.
“You cant leave yet.”
The creepy smile that usually graced Elder Sangs face vanished without a trace and was replaced by a solemn look.
“Let me tell you a story.”
He walked away.
Xu Xiaoshou took a deep breath and suppressed his terrible urge to run away, then jogged toward the old man.
“The Shengshen Continent is divided into five regions.
In the remote central region, the Holy Divine Land, lies the Holy Palace, the holy land for all alchemists in the continent,” said Elder Sang with his hands folded behind his back and a faraway look in his eyes.
Xu Xiaoshou nodded.
All he knew was that the land that he was standing upon belonged to the eastern region, the Holy Sword Land.
A significant number of swordsmen resided in the Holy Sword Land.
He knew little about the other four regions of the continent.
In fact, hed never heard of the Holy Palace.
“In the Holy Palace lies a lake.
It looks like the Goose Lake before us, but is three times its size.”
Elder Sang pointed at the Goose Lake that lay beyond the snowy jade rails.
A significant share of its waters had been turned into vapor.
He said slowly.
“Its called the Greater Goose Lake.”
Xu Xiaoshou was speechless.
“There was a young lad who often appeared at the banks of the Greater Goose Lake.
He was around your age, and he enjoyed training next to the lake because it was tranquil and quiet.
“One day, he attained Innate Level Physique.”
Xu Xiaoshou froze in his tracks.
He stared at the silhouette of the old man and his straw hat.
A piece of the puzzle was slowly shifting into place.
“The young lad was overjoyed.
Not long after that, on a particular night, an old geezer appeared and forced an Infernal Fire Seed down his throat.
The young man resisted eating the seed then.”
Xu Xiaoshous face darkened.
Was the old man talking about him
Had the old geezer been force-fed an Infernal Fire Seed when he was a young man Was that why hed done the same thing to Xu Xiaoshou As some misguised attempt at vengenance
Xu Xiaoshou continued listening as Elder Sang told his story.
“A month later, the young lads Innate Level Physique was scorched to the core and ruined beyond repair.
“The old geezer appeared once again and fed him another Infernal Fire Seed.
He gave the young lad a third Infernal Fire Seed and the manual to a technique.”
“Was it the Infernal Heavens” Xu Xiaoshou clenched his fists.
That young man had been put through a great deal more hardship than Xu Xiaoshou had.
Hed been fed another Infernal Fire Seed after his Innate Level Physique had been irreparably damaged.
That must have eventually killed him!
“Thats right!” Elder Sang nodded.
“The old geezer said to the young lad,Do you hate me If you do, then master this technique so that you can defeat me.
“The young lad had no other choice.
With hatred burning in his heart, he began practicing the technique.
He poured everything he had into it.
Within a year, he regained his Innate Level Physique.
“After another three days, he advanced to the Master Stage!”
“That was when he realized that he had shattered the myth that had persisted throughout the continent, the myth that an Innate Level Physique couldnt break through to the Master Stage.
“Itd taken him only a year to do that.
Xu Xiaoshous jaw dropped.
He hadnt expected the story to unfold in this manner.