Beiluo, Lake Island .
In the deep night .
The moon hung high up in the sky, glowing magnificently .
On the second floor of the White Jade City Pavilion, Lu Fan leaned back in the Thousand Blades Chair with the fire swaying gently, the wine boiling in the pot .
The flame illuminated Lu Fan’s clothes . In front of him was a bonfire, and the flame had been restricted to burn within a square inch .
There was a fat fish skewered onto a wooden pole, and it was suspended above the fire to roast . Both sides were roasted to a beautiful golden yellow, the oil glistening on its body .
The little Responsive Dragon had its wings tucked neatly into itself as it opened its mouth slightly . It was salivating as it stared at the fat fish, not at all moving .
Lu Fan has one hand supporting his chin and the other controlling the fire . He turned the wooden pole to make sure the fish was cooking evenly so the meat would not be too fatty or too greasy .
Above the surface of the lake…
It was rippling, and the ripples disturbed the reflection of the pale young man .
Ning Zhao made her way over and floated toward the shore . The black bamboo forest swayed with the breeze with a rustling sound that lingered around the island, not unlike the sound of waves rising .
“Young Master…” Ning Zhao could not help but say, under the moonlight…
Only to look up to the second floor of the pavilion to see Lu Fan munching on the roasted fish he was holding .
“What’s the matter?” Lu Fan responded .
After that, he took a bite of the fish meat that had been roasted to a golden yellow . The heat surged from the bitten-off piece of meat, and its fragrance seeped out, captivating the senses of those around as it permeated the air .
The little Responsive Dragon was hungry . It wanted to snatch the fish for himself, but it was also afraid of being whooped, so it was rather conflicted .
Lu Fan did not look at the dragon, minding his own business as he ate the roasted fish .
Ning Zhao was at a loss for words .
The Young Master seemed to be having a good time passing his time like this on the island alone, huh?
But Ning Zhao made no comments . The Young Master was still the master of White Jade City . If he wanted to eat roasted fish…who was she to say anything?
“Has Old Nie gone to storm the forbidden area?” Ning Zhao asked .
Lu Fan nodded slightly in acknowledgment, taking another bite of the steaming hot fish .
The little Responsive Dragon grumbled, gulping as it swallowed its own saliva .
“You want to go too?” Lu Fan asked as if he could tell what Ning Zhao was thinking .
“Go if you wish, but you have first to make sure your cultivation is stable . You’ve just started working with elemental Spirit Qi, and it won’t be too late for you even if you go after you’ve properly mastered this . The stronger you are, the more likely you’ll stay alive,” Lu Fan said mildly, sucking on his greasy finger .
This sight was rather foreign and strange to Ning Zhao .
Ning Zhao listened to his words and then nodded solemnly . After that, she turned around and left Beiluo Lake Island .
After Ning Zhao left, there were no other movements on the island . Lu Fan was still eating his fish .
Sometime after, only the bones and head of the fish were left .
Lu Fan cast a glance at the little Responsive Dragon and then tossed the fish bones to it .
The little Responsive Dragon felt so indignant it almost started crying .
Look! Was this something a human being would do?
After eating his fill, Lu Fan picked up the bronze wine cup and swirled the wine in it . He took a small sip and looked out onto the lake .
Nie Changqing was more or less ready to enter the forbidden area .
Honestly, the forbidden area was the top-class Mid Level Martial World .
As for the specifics of what came after, Lu Fan had never once bothered to find out, because he had already dealt with the Plane’s Origin and caught the attention of the other party .
Once they descended, they would likely attract the attention of many other strong powerhouses .
As such, Lu Fan never looked into this .
The three forbidden areas were basically three doors . The specifics of where the doors led was not something Lu Fan had looked into .
“Huh…I have to be careful . Old Nie might have stepped into the Heavenly Lock Realm, but once he enters the place and crosses paths with a powerhouse like Du Longyang from Wudi City, he won’t be able to escape from that…”
Lu Fan stroked his chin .
It did not even have to be someone like Du Longyang; as long as it was an existence in the Golden Elixir Realm or higher, they would be more than enough to hold down Old Nie .
Lu Fan thought about it for a while and then raised a hand to grab at something in the air .
After a while, three drops of Spirit Fluid gathered in the palm of his hand .
There was an influx of Spiritual Sense, and then the Spirit Fluid started to change form . Very quickly, they turned into three little Lu Fans .
The three little Lu Fans jumped about on Lu Fan’s palm .
They ran into one another and then started fighting . They were rather mischievous .
Lu Fan smiled gently .
He lifted a hand and waved it about .
The three little Lu Fans flew up, gliding in the air . In a beat, they disappeared .
And Lu Fan leaned on the back of his wheelchair . He retrieved his Spirit Pressure Chessboard and started setting up, his gaze flitting back and forth without stopping .
Western Liang .
There was something lonely about the moonlight .
The Overlord was astride on his horse, standing at the edge of a broken cliff .
Beneath the cliff was the forbidden area in Western Liang . After finding out about its existence, the Overlord had personally returned to Western Liang himself and dispatched a huge army to station themselves there in order to prevent any accidents from happening .
“Just what’s behind the forbidden area?”
A forbidden area that had caused even Young Master Lu of Beiluo to treat it so seriously—this made the Overlord really curious .
He had an overwhelming impulse to step into the forbidden area .
But his rational side suppressed the impulses of his heart .
Xu Chu was sitting on his own horse, resting beside the Overlord .
“My Lord, you leaving the Imperial City and returning to Western Liang…is it really okay?” Xu Chu asked .
“It’s all right since Mingsang is in the capital city… There are a lot of things she’s capable of handling,” the Overlord remarked indifferently .
When Xu Chu heard this, he then frowned the next moment . There was something he wanted to say, but he held his tongue . But then he thought about it again, and eventually, he did not say anything . He heaved a sigh .
“Just say what’s on your mind… Don’t hem and haw,” the Overlord said as he glanced at Xu Chu .
Xu Chu waved his hand with a smile . Some words were better off left unsaid .
“There’s a secret report that came in today . Nie Changqing has left Beiluo and is heading toward South County, planning on entering the forbidden area there?” the Overlord asked .
Xu Chu nodded . “He’s probably making the preparations to step into the forbidden land now and will likely make the move tomorrow . ”
“Nie Changqing has already entered the Heavenly Lock Realm, but why did he still choose to storm the forbidden area? I’ve been thinking about it for quite some time, and then I finally realized . Nie Changqing lacks pressure, and he needs the pressure to force himself to continue moving forward, which is why he chose to enter the forbidden area,” the Overlord said .
The Overlord looked at the forbidden area, a fire burning in his eyes…
The forbidden area was something that he was rather curious about .
Someone galloped in on a horse from the distance .
It was a general from the Western Liang Xiang that was stationed in the forbidden area .
“My Lord, there’s a bald man from Liangzhou City who wants to enter the forbidden city,” the general said .
The Overlord and Xu Chu were shocked . Their eyes met, and both of them could see how shocked the other was .
After that, the two of them rode down to the forbidden area .
Very quickly, the Overlord saw the bald man .
He could not help but frown at the sight of the man because the man gave him a weird sense of familiarity .
It was like the Buddhist Monk who attacked Western Liang that day .
Ding Jiudeng put his palms together and stood quietly in his spot .
The Overlord rode over to him, his glinting eyes landing on Ding Jiudeng .
“You want to enter the forbidden area?” the Overlord asked .
Ding Jiudeng was rather nervous . After all, the person he was meeting now was the Lord of Western Liang, Wester Liang’s Overlord, a powerhouse who had every right to own that title .
Initially, when he had still been a shop assistant, he used to hear about all the things the Overlord did .
And now that he was looking at the Overlord with his own eyes, he was strangely nervous .
But after the Overlord posed him that question, Ding Jiudeng zoned out . After a while, his initial nerves had vanished, and he was even feeling a little bored .
“I do,” Ding Jiudeng bowed, answering neither too quickly nor too slowly .
The Overlord and Xu Chu were a little puzzled .
It was important to note that the Overlord was extremely powerful now, but this bald man was not the least bit nervous in his presence .
This person…was extremely stable!
“Have we met before?” the Overlord asked, his gaze fixed on Ding Jiudeng .
It was quiet . After two or three breaths, Ding Jiudeng answered calmly, “No . ”
The Overlord frowned . They had never met?
“Buddhist?” the Overlord raised his chin as he asked .
There was a lull, and then Ding Jiudeng nodded . “I am . ”
The Overlord could not help the look of disdain that seeped onto his face . So he was the Buddhist, as was the Buddhist Monk that had been on the Western Liang battlefield .
It seemed that this person had inherited the legacy left behind by that Buddhist Monk .
“What are you doing here on these lands? I’ll have your head if you’re here without reason,” the Overlord said coldly .
Xu Chu’s countenance had frozen over as well . That battle back then—the one between the Western Liang Army and the army of Buddhist monks—had been tragic, and there had been a lot of casualties .
As such, Xu Chu had no love for Buddhist monks .
Ding Jiudeng was very silent . After half a beat, he finally put his palms together .
“I heard that you were recruiting for cultivators to enter the forbidden area, and those who make it back alive would earn 30,000 silver taels . ”
“And so I’ve come here,” Ding Jiudeng said .
The Overlord did not feel much when he heard this .
Xu Chu, on the other hand, smiled coldly . “What a greedy monk you are . ”
“And you’re so confident . You think you’ll be able to return from the forbidden area? Are you not afraid of dying?” Xu Chu asked .
“Amitabha, of course, I fear death, but my temple is dilapidated beyond compare, and it needs to be maintained . I need the silver for the maintenance, and there are also dozens of other young monks in the temple who need to be fed . ”
“I don’t steal or rob, and it just so happened that I heard the Lord was recruiting, so I specially made my way down here… I can only hope that I’ll be able to walk out of the forbidden area alive and bring back something for the young monks,” spoke Ding Jiudeng with his palms together . He had been silent for quite some time .
The Overlord blanched when he heard this . He did not expect that Ding Jiudeng would have come here to enter the forbidden area for this purpose .
All this time, the Overlord had already offered rewards to several ruffians to enter the forbidden area .
Some had barely entered the Qi Core Realm, and there were even others who were on the seventh and eighth stage in the same realm, but not a single one of them had returned .
“How’s your cultivation?” Xu Chu questioned .
After a while, Ding Jiudeng’s face smoothed out . He recited the Buddhist sutra, and then a golden Buddhist statue floated behind him all of a sudden . The overwhelming aura was weighing down on Xu Chu so heavily that the man could not help but stumble two to three steps back .
“Early stages of the Internal Organs Realm…”
The Overlord stared at Ding Jiudeng in shock . He did not expect that someone at the Internal Organs Realm had been hiding in Western Liang .
It was just a shame that this person was a Buddhist monk .
The Overlord did not think too nicely of Buddhist monks .
“Go if you want to, then . Just remember—if you want the reward, you’ll have to return alive . Also, you’ll have to come back with a token from the forbidden area as proof . ”
“Without the token, there will be no reward,” the Overlord said .
“Amitabha, I thank you for your grace,” Ding Jiudeng bowed .
After that, he turned and walked toward the forbidden area in the distance .
Xu Chu, on the other hand, waved toward the garrison in the distance .
These guards let Ding Jiudeng pass . Ding Jiudeng kept his palms together and walked forward until he reached the semi-transparent wall of air .
He zoned out for a beat as he stared at the wall of air and then came back to his senses . The fear in his heart had somewhat disappeared .
With his palms together, he chanted the name of the Buddha .
The small face from Yongcheng Temple floated in front of his eyes .
Ding Jiudeng smiled . He took the steps forward and stepped into the wall of air .
As he watched Ding Jiudeng disappear into the air wall…
The Overlord’s gaze was focused on what was about to happen in front of him .
“Send someone down to do a background check on him . If things are really as he said, then take care of the young monks . It’s fine if he’s able to come back alive, but if not…then draft the young monks into the army,” the Overlord instructed .
Xu Chu’s face hardened when he heard the man . “Understood . ”
Just as the Overlord was ready to turn and leave…
Suddenly, a beam of dazzling light flashed .
The Overlord focused his gaze on the beam of light, only to see it rush into the wall of air and disappear in an instant .
The Overlord was rather shocked .
He could make out a miniature…
When the brilliance of the dawn tore about the dense, thick clouds .
In the forbidden area of South County .
Several figures were standing by quietly .
A figure was sitting before the wall of air in the forbidden area, and there seemed to be a powerful aura hazily wrapped around him .
Nie Changqing opened his eyes . It seemed like something had flashed by his line of sight—that was the power of Spiritual Sense .
The condition of his entire being had been adjusted .
In the far distance .
Tang Yimo and the rest of his group had been sitting around idly, but they turned to look at him .
There was no Spirit Qi in the forbidden area, which meant cultivation was impossible, so they were just sitting around killing time .
Suddenly, Nie Changqing stood up, one hand placed on the handle of the Dragon Slaying Knife attached to his waist .
Everyone watched him in awe . They knew that Nie Changqing was preparing to enter the forbidden area now .
“Take care, Brother Nie . ”
“You have to stay alive, Nie . ”
Tang Yimo, Xie Yunling, and the rest of them all greeted Nie Changqing with a fist and palm salute .
Nie Changqing returned the salute, his face warm and gentle .
He turned, and the smile vanished from his face . His face turned serious .
Looking at the blurry wall of air, Nie Changqing’s heart grew heavy .
Just what lay behind the forbidden area?
Was it an underground palace like the Secret Realm of the Hidden Dragon Ridge?
Or was it like another little world like the Dragon Gates?
Nie Changqing was not sure .
But he was fearless as usual . Since he wanted the become stronger—strong enough to provide Nie Shuang and Ru’er with a peaceful world to live in—then he had no regrets or complaints .
“I hope…you give me some sort of motivation and pressure . Please…don’t let me down,” Nie Changqing said .
As soon as he spoke…
Nie Changqing strode forth, under the watchful gaze of the crowd . One hand on his blade and his white robe billowing in the wind, he crossed into the wall of air elegantly .
A wave ran through his body as he stepped in .
After Nie Changqing stepped in, everyone felt their heart clench .
Nie Changqing was the first to enter the Heavenly Lock Realm in this age, and one could even call him the best of all the people under Beiluo’s Young Master Lu .
His entering the forbidden area was, to a degree, representative of the most powerful being exploring the forbidden area .
Tang Yimo clenched his fists .
He looked at the silhouette of Nie Changqing as the man disappeared into the forbidden area and slowly exhaled a breath .
He was a little lost . He wanted to become stronger, but he had too many worries and attachments to deal with, which made him lose the courage to just move on without turning back .
Perhaps there were some changes he had to make; otherwise…the path to becoming stronger would only prove to be a difficult one .
A beam of light flashed as it shot forward .
The crowd felt their vision go hazy . Something had pierced into the wall of air .
Li Sansui, Xie Yunling, and the rest of them all frowned . Indistinctly, they got the feeling that they knew what it was, but it had gone by too quickly, so they could not get a clear look .
Because of this, the crowd did not think too much of it .
Nie Changqing had entered the forbidden area .
But their group did not choose to leave .
Quite a few of them sat cross-legged . They were waiting for the outcome .
Nie Changqing had set a deadline for all of them . 10 days—if he did not manage to return after 10 days, then it would mean he had run into a huge crisis .
If he could not leave the area after a month, then he had likely died .
Despite that, quite a few people still had hope in their hearts .
Human beings were always so curious about the unknown .