The next day, the 24 newcomers competed one after another on the arena, and every single one did not have any foundation for spiritual power. This sort of competition was very dull, and the great majority of official disciples were bored stiff watching. In fact, by the time it was Li Xiuchen’s turn, many people didn’t even look at him.
There was only Luo Jianqing, whose gaze had been concentrated on this ordinary-looking young man this entire time.
Throughout the entirety of his past life, Luo Jianqing never understood how a young man with such a mediocre constitution could oppress the stars in the all-peak examinations with average strength, or how he received second place. Even though none of the other disciples had any spiritual power, there were many new disciples among them that had come from clans who studied martial arts techniques since childhood, and their strength far exceeded that of an ordinary person’s.
However, Luo Jianqing was actually the only one who had achieved Qi Condensation level in ten days!
Among the 36 provinces, the human cultivators were divided into nine levels: namely, Qi Condensation, Foundation Establishment, Core Formation, Nascent Soul, Out-of-Body, Body Fusion, Calamity Passage, Mahayana, and Immortal Ascension. Every level had their own sub-levels: namely the initial stage, the middle stage, and the last stage, except the Qi Condensation period was divided into nine phases, from Qi Condensation Phase One to Phase Nine.
In his past life, there were 23 disciples altogether (apart from the deceased Liu Xiaoxiao), and surprisingly only the worst one, Li Xiuchen, had reached Qi Condensation! And not only was Li Xiuchen born in poverty, but there wasn’t any good environment for children in his family to cultivate. Just like a fantasy story.
Nowadays, after reading “Seeking Immortality”, Luo Jianqing finally understood why.
How could’ve he said that? It was simply because Li Xiuchen was a child of the heavens!
See a magic potion when he raises his head, meet a spiritual beast when he lowers it — this was the truth when it came to him.
Li Xiuchen and the rest of the new disciples were temporarily assigned as outer disciples of Tai Hua Mountain to cultivate for ten days. This is what “Seeking Immortality” said: Due to his dear childhood friend’s tragic death, Li Xiuchen was determined to become strong, working hard to cultivate every day. However, his innate skill was actually very low, and there was a huge difference between him cultivating for eight days and someone else cultivating for one day. Therefore, the night before the all-peak examinations started, he went to the back of the mountain to entertain himself, and then… he stepped on a medicine pill!
The Spirit-Melting Pill.
This was considered to be the most common medicine pill, and what Li Xiuchen also didn’t know was that some medicine master had accidentally left it behind, which was how he found it.
The Spirit-Melting Pill was a very average, level one medicine pill. If 10,000 of these were put in front of Luo Jianqing he wouldn’t give them a second glance. But he was no match for the glittering MC halo! This Spirit-Melting Pill wasn’t too bad; actually, it was a heaven-rank Spirit-Melting Pill! After Li Xiuchen took it, his meridians were cleansed and became stronger overnight, and officially stepped into the first level of cultivation!
When he got to this point in the book, Luo Jianqing was speechless.
A heaven-rank Spirit-Melting Pill, huh!
On the entire Tai Hua Mountain, the Qing Lan Peak Lord, the honorable Yu Qingzi was able to refine medicine. But how could a great master who could refine a heaven-rank Spirit-Melting Pill, possibly refine a level one Spirit-Melting Pill? Not only that, but did that old woman have nothing to do than look for outer disciples strolling around at the back of the mountain, and casually drop a heaven-rank medicine pill on the way?
Where is the logic?! Where is the reasoning?! This made no sense at all!
Therefore, three days ago, Luo Jianqing left Yu Xiao Peak without a word, and headed to the back of the mountain to gather items.
Someone, not just Li Xiuchen, would’ve stepped on that heaven-rank medicine pill at some point, but Luo Jianqing had practically overturned the entire mountain to look for it. Finally after an entire night, he found the gold, glittering medicine pill. This pill was truly extraordinary as it said, the will of the heavens was so slanted that you couldn’t see its face!
After using his spiritual sense to examine it, he put the heaven-rank Spirit-Melting Pill inside his storage ring. Luo Jianqing’s thin lips curved up slightly, blossoming into a tranquil and easy smile. His umber-black eyebrows lightly smoothed out, his phoenix eyes curving so they resembled crescent moons. Seeing this, the hearts of many female disciples toppled one after another. However, Luo Jianqing’s gaze had been fixed on what was happening on the arena, not even the slightest bit distracted.
And so he said, you don’t have the Spirit-Melting Pill, so how will you defeat your opponent as an ordinary person?
Luo Jianqing’s jade-like slender fingers gently rapped against the black iron table. His eyes slightly narrowed, and his smiling expression was profound.
In the arena, Li Xiuchen was gloomy, his entire heart restless. He nearly wanted to go back and read “Seeking Immortality” again.
“Seeking Immortality” was a very well-known stallion novel with a super golden finger. In his past life Li Xiuchen read it no less than ten times. He went over the details in his mind over and over, but nothing particular came up. He clearly remembered that on the ninth day, he had walked around the back of Tai Hua Mountain, then stepped on the heaven-rank Spirit-Melting Pill and raised his cultivation in one go. But yesterday, he spent the entire night walking around the back of Tai Hua Mountain where the outer disciples were. Don’t even mention a heaven-rank medicine pill, he didn’t even see a single spiritual root!
Can you really say he isn’t depressed? Can you really say he isn’t sullen?
Without the heaven-rank Spirit-Melting Pill, how could he win against these disciples who were raised in clans?
His constitution was nothing special at all!
“Tenth match of the Tai Hua Mountain new disciple all-peak examinations. Xu Hua from Changzhou, fourth-degree constitution: Li Xiuchen from Yuzhou, no constitution.”
After the voice fell, the senior brothers who were judging them retreated a step back to give the newcomers some space. Seeing the sturdy built Xu Hua across from him, Li Xiuchen’s face twitched: He didn’t have a single thick arm! How is he going to fight him? He was no better than a punching bag!
On the high platform, two people were watching this massive gap in strength. Xie Zizhuo chuckled, completely covered in black, and moved close to mutter quietly in Luo Jianqing’s ear, “Senior brother, didn’t I say this earlier? How could you say he might have a chance to win? That Xu Hua’s constitution is fourth-degree, and his cultivation is already a level higher, but Li Xiuchen doesn’t have any constitution at all, and he is short and small. If he wins, wouldn’t the heavens be too biased?”
Luo Jianqing turned his head to look at Xie Zizhuo, his fair and elegant eyes softly curving into a smile. He looked at his sloppy-looking junior brother with a smile that wasn’t quite right. “Are you so sure that he’ll lose?”
Xie Zizhuo said like it was obvious, “Of course. If he does win, tomorrow I’ll go to Siguo Cliff and accompany senior sister Wei!”
Luo Jianqing feigned surprise, raising his eyebrows. “You’re going to take that large a gamble?”
Xie Zizhuo said mysteriously, “Yes, I will. Anyway, senior brother Luo, if you end up being wrong… I want the jade ox comb you use everyday.”
The corners of Luo Jianqing’s lips pulled into a smile. “…”
Xie Zizhuo saw his senior brother’s “don’t be such a pervert” expression. He immediately waved his hand and made himself clear. “It’s not what I want, it’s what little junior sister wants. Senior brother, did you know that little junior sister has been in love with you since she was young? Otherwise she would never refine. I don’t want this to happen ever, so you can argue with her, but her ultimate wish is to use your jade ox comb.”
“… Why would little junior sister possibly want my jade ox comb?”
Xie Zizhuo’s eyes widened, and said in disbelief, “Why wouldn’t she? If Yu Xiao Peak wasn’t so strict, our little junior sister would never go up. Do you believe me when I say that she would even climb up in the middle of the night to peep you!”
Luo Jianqing, “…”
Xie Zizhuo’s words were still coming like an unending torrent. He was obviously talking about how his own little junior sister was so wretched and perverted, but he didn’t have a single bit of disdain in his words. Instead, it was more accurate to say he sighed with pride. “Little junior sister is so willful. If I was even half as bold as her, I would’ve visited Cang Shuang Peak everyday.”
Hearing his words made Luo Jianqing smile wordlessly, but in his heart, a bitter moodiness started to stir.
He had been very close with his little junior sister since they were young. Before she became of marriageable age, she declared that she wouldn’t ever marry. But his little junior sister was married to Li Xiuchen until the end, becoming his wife with her hair tied and all(1). He never expected that from his proud and stubborn little junior sister, and her husband still took nine more wives after that. Luo Jianqing heard his little junior sister was very generous in taking care of Li Xiuchen along with other sisters, but he couldn’t imagine anything like that.
Under that blue sky and scorching sun, Li Xiuchen held a heaven-rank medicine pill in his hand as he said to him with arrogance, “Luo Jianqing, though you are Qing Lan Peak’s inheriting great disciple, these medicine pills you have been enjoying throughout your life are now with me. Don’t feel any regret.” He was that kind of person. Those red clothes were as bright as fire. Was it possible that he actually enjoyed being superior to Li Xiuchen until the very end?
—Because he was a hero that saved beauties! Because the poison of desire ran through his body!
How were the heavens ever unfair? The heavens were only fair towards Li Xiuchen!
His elegant, pale face was slowly covered in a layer of grief, only to fade away in an instant. Luo Jianqing watched Li Xiuchen with a complex expression. Not knowing why, he said without thinking, “Fine, if he loses, I’ll give you my jade ox comb.”
Xie Zizhuo had been earnestly trying to persuade him, and from time to time he would pull Wei Qiongyin in, saying things like, “Accompanying senior sister Wei is such a scary thought. Senior brother Luo, it’s lucky that you won’t lose anything by giving me your jade ox comb.” Hearing Luo Jianqing suddenly agree made him elated beyond belief, and looked towards the arena with excitement.
But in the next second—
The tall and strong Xu Hua suddenly covered his stomach. “Ah… it hurts! Judges… senior brothers, please give me a moment!”
Li Xiuchen, “…”
Xie Zizhuo was stunned. “…”
Luo Jianqing was completely silent. “…”
Even though he had guessed before that the heavens were biased all the way to the other end of China, he didn’t think they would be this biased!
Li Xiuchen’s first match ended as the other person’s stomach hurt too much, winning without a fight!
Li Xiuchen’s second match ended just as the other person made a move and suddenly sprained his waist, winning without a fight!
Li Xiuchen’s third match was against Liu Xiaoxiao. Just as Liu Xiaoxiao extended her hand to strike Li Xiuchen’s arm, he howled in pain, scaring Liu Xiaoxiao into pulling back her hand and asking timidly, “Big brother Chen, are you okay?” After that, Li Xiuchen moved to subdue her.
Everyone watching was completely silent. “…”
Luo Jianqing sighed. “…”
Xie Zizhuo was inconsolable and indignant. “This isn’t fair! This is just luck! Everything’s only been luck!”
Luo Jianqing gently shook his head and laughed, “Junior brother, as we immortals say, luck is always power.”
Xie Zizhuo watched the arena, fuming with anger. He said furiously, “There’s only three people left. The other two are both children of the eighth largest aristocratic family. I don’t believe it. One has a first-degree constitution, and the other has a second-degree constitution. How could they be worse than a terrible little boy with no constitution?”
Li Xiuchen’s fourth opponent happened to be excused, naturally winning without a fight.
Xie Zizhuo was silent as tears streamed down his cheeks. “…”
Below, the entire arena was filled with muttering, and many people were pointing at Li Xiuchen. The little girl Liu Xiaoxiao hadn’t stopped rubbing her aching stomach, and wasn’t sitting so close to her big brother Chen anymore. Li Xiuchen’s palm had ruthlessly struck her body. Although she was young and only knew how to depend on her familiar big brother Chen , she wasn’t stupid.
That palm of Li Xiuchen really didn’t hurt that much, but she was very upset, her small pretty face completely broken-hearted.
What happened wasn’t anything different from his past life. Li Xiuchen got second place yet again in the all-peak examinations, bound to become an inner disciple. After that, Li Xiuchen beamed with happiness, and muttered proudly, “So this is the protagonist halo, huh? This is really cool! Hehehehe.”
Luo Jianqing was watching Li Xiuchen’s immensely proud face with complex feelings in his heart. After watching him for a long time, he slowly started to smile. He raised his head, looking towards the clear blue sky, as if he could see things from the ancient past in the dark blue sky. His delicate, beautiful face held only a gentle smile.
He came in second place again this time, but already, there were some things that were different.
In his past life, after Li Xiuchen got second place, the disciples on the stage below all exclaimed in admiration. A new junior brother without any constitution was shining on the arena above, becoming the only disciple to achieve Qi Condensation. This encouraging event made people cannot help but admire him. And many people also knew that this junior brother had just lost his childhood friend, so they were sympathetic towards him.
“This guy is really lucky, huh?”
“Yeah, that guy is pretty vicious. He just struck down that little girl he knew in the arena.”
“He’ll become an inner disciple with second place, but I don’t know if he’ll be so lucky in the future.”
Luo Jianqing took in these mutterings without a word, a small smile on his face. Xie Zizhuo stood at his side, so depressed that he had been paralyzed above his chair. He said, dispirited, “The heavens aren’t fair, the heavens really are too unfair. This kind of luck is something that I, Xie Zizhuo, has never heard of! The heavens aren’t fair!”
Luo Jianqing laughed once, and said tranquilly, “Junior brother, the heavens have never been fair.”
Originally, Xie Zizhuo only spoke without thinking, and didn’t expect to receive an answer from Luo Jianqing. He raised his head to look at his senior brother, and saw a despondent look on his face for just an instant. Then Luo Jianqing smiled bitterly, saying, “If the heavens are not fair, then make them fair. Junior brother, our cultivation is due to ourselves, not the will of the heavens. Do you understand what I just said?”
Xie Zizhuo was startled for a moment, then respectfully nodded, without any trace of his carelessness from before. “Yes.”
The all-peak examinations had ended.
The best six of the examinations all became inner disciples, the rest having become outer disciples. And the top three could pick wherever they wanted to go, going from first to third in order. The first place winner came from a powerful family, with a first-degree constitution, and immediately chose the peak of Tai Hua Mountain’s sect leader, Cang Shuang Peak. The inheriting disciple from Cang Shuang Peak came and took him away.
Next was Li Xiuchen.
Luo Jianqing stood on the center of the high platform, his handsome face calm and collected as he said neutrally, “In the past ten days, there should’ve been an inner disciple that told you the main circumstances of our Tai Hua Mountain. Since you have come in second place in the all-peak examinations, we will let you choose from Tai Hua Mountain’s six peaks. Which one do you wish to go to?”
Unlike the first place disciple, no one said a word after Luo Jianqing’s voice fell.
All of the senior brothers and sisters of the six peaks that came to receive the new disciples were all mute, staring oddly at Li Xiuchen, who was on the stage. They didn’t really like this weak junior brother, and no one wanted to personally help him get stronger. Could they take this boy by the neck and make him go back? Would his luck be as good as today’s in the future?
This situation was entirely different from the one in his past life. At that time, everyone was clamoring for Li Xiuchen, but now no one was showing any interest. Luo Jianqing’s expression didn’t change as he watched Li Xiuchen, showing neither sorrow nor joy. Like a god in the frosty skies, his imposing manner and neutral expression were oppressing.
However, exactly the same as his past life, Li Xiuchen humbly cupped his hands in greeting, saying seriously, “Senior brother, I heard that Tai Hua Mountain has seven peaks altogether. Why do you say I’m allowed to pick one out of the six peaks?”
Once his words fell to the ground, everyone was in an uproar.
For a while now, Luo Jianqing had felt ice-cold and cutting in his heart, but he said with a tender smile, “The Yu Xiao Peak where I reside does not accept disciples. I am the only one, so go ahead and choose from the other six peaks.”
After hearing these words, pleasant surprise flashed through Li Xiuchen’s eyes. Feigning indifference, he continued, “Senior brother, I would like to enter Yu Xiao Peak. Sir Xuan Lingzi is rivaled by none, challenging demonic cultivators with his own strength, a model for us cultivators. I will not hide from you, senior brother, that I greatly admire him. In fact, I came to Tai Hua Mountain just to study under Sir Xuan Lingzi. Even if I became an odd-jobs disciple, I would be most willing.”
When this happened in his past lifetime, Luo Jianqing was so angry that the spiritual energy in his body rebelled, a flick of his sleeve nearly sending the boy falling to his death.
His accomplishments since birth had been excellent, he had extraordinary patience, but his only weakness was that person. Li Xiuchen had hit his sore spot just right, and he couldn’t help but grow furious. He injured Li Xiuchen, then that person, who had never left the gates before, suddenly left Yu Xiao Peak to go back and personally treat Li Xiuchen. Then he told him in a neutral voice, “Jianqing, from now on, he will be your junior brother.”
In his past life, he was framed countless times by Li Xiuchen. though there was only one thing that Li Xiuchen said that was right.
—He hated Li Xiuchen. He hated that Li Xiuchen had become that person’s disciple, sharing that position reserved only for him.
The past floated like clouds in front of his eyes and passed in a flash. Luo Jianqing lowered his head to look at Li Xiuchen. He saw that the latter was looking at him with slight fear, but his eyes also had a trace of expectation, like he was waiting for something. Yet this time, Luo Jianqing merely sighed heavily. Under his sleeves, his fingernails tightly clenched his palm. He said with a gentle smile, “Yu Xiao Peak has never accepted any disciples. Junior brother, pick another one.”
Li Xiuchen was instantly stupefied.
This entire time, he had been waiting for Luo Jianqing to attack, and then Xuan Lingzi would come to help resolve the dispute with Luo Jianqing, while simultaneously bringing him into Yu Xiao Peak. How did Luo Jianqing never raise a hand against him all this time? Perhaps he had passed into this book, and that’s why he changed so radically?
After waiting for a moment, Li Xiuchen’s expression indecisive the entire time, he slowly ran out of words to say.
He didn’t speak. Luo Jianqing said nothing as well and patiently waited. To his side, however, Xie Zizhuo was impatient. “Stop being so indecisive and pick somewhere to go already. That young lady who got third place, I can see that your constitution’s pretty good. Do you want to go with my senior brother to Hao Ming Peak? Our Hao Ming Peak has the most beautiful scenery in Tai Hua Mountain, and fits a cute young lady like you the best…”
The other five disciples who had been waiting the entire time already picked their own school to go to. Li Xiuchen was still standing at the same place he was before, unmoving. When Liu Xiaoxiao was taken by the Qing Lan Peak person, she hesitated for a moment, then said to Li Xiuchen, “Chen-gege, Qing Lan Peak is really good. Do you want to come with me to Qing Lan Peak?”
Li Xiuchen answered her in a resolute tone, “I want to study under Sir Xuan Lingzi.”
Luo Jianqing heard what he said. The smile on his lips deepened, and he didn’t reply.
Finally, the other 23 disciples had all picked out the peaks they wanted to go to, leaving only Li Xiuchen who was slow with his decision. He raised his head to look at Luo Jianqing, who lowered his head to look at him. Of the two, one stood in a high position, wearing a white robe, natural and graceful, so handsome it appeared he held the radiance of the whole world; one stood in a low position, wearing clothes made of sackcloth, looked completely ordinary, and his eyes were filled with a shrewd look.
After a while, Luo Jianqing said gently, “Junior brother, you should go to Hao Ming Peak. Their techniques suit you better.”
Li Xiuchen staunchly shook his head. “No! Senior brother, I came to Tai Hua Mountain to join Yu Xiao Peak, to study under Sir Xuan Lingzi!”
The phrase “Sir Xuan Lingzi” made Luo Jianqing’s smile slowly bend toward his eyes. His palm had already been stained with his own blood from being pinched, but he hadn’t revealed a trace of his true feelings since the very beginning. The corners of his lips were raised as he paid no more attention to Li Xiuchen. Instead, he turned his head to say to the embarrassed Xie Zizhuo, “Junior brother, take him away.”
Xie Zizhuo originally wanted to say something, but he looked at the clear wisps of blood in Luo Jianqing’s eyes and dumbly nodded his head. But when Xie Zizhuo ordered people to take Li Xiuchen, he still shouted noisily, “No! I want to go to Yu Xiao Peak, I want to go to Yu Xiao Peak! I want to see Sir Xuan Lingzi, I want to see Sir Xuan Lingzi!”
The skies were clear as crystal. The outer disciples of Tai Hua Mountain on the other side of the platform were calm and quiet. The elegant, unworried great senior brother of Tai Hua Mountain stood high with a tranquil expression, watching the junior brother shout as he was being taken away.
Who would’ve anticipated this! But he saw the clouds roll in the horizon and a golden sword-light cut the air, quickly penetrating the sky.
The majestic sword light brought the whole Tai Hua Mountain to submission. The atmosphere stood still, and water stopped running. The golden sword light that filled the sky made everyone’s swords begin to tremble and shake, like they wanted to pledge their allegiance. The disciples were intimidated, their hearts so unstable they nearly kneeled down.
Only a prolonged, deep voice could be heard throughout the boundless distance, like it had come from ancient times. Mixed with a faint sigh, it rang gently from the sky, “Jianqing.”
(1) 结发: binding your hair upon coming of age