"If someone were to receive a drop of favor, they should repay with a brimming spring worth of requite; what's more, it was a life-saving grace. During that time, it involved an enormous destiny and we have received such a great grace, it's only deserving that we do something in return."
"May I ask where the other underworld kings are now?" Yun Yang asked.
King Qinguang's expression soured again as he said miserably, "They're healing themselves in a secluded place now. He hesitated for a moment, before adding, I'll bring you over a little later."
Yun Yang understood his deliberation. After all, all ten court kings of the concourse were severely injured and had no combat power left. They had to be very cautious. If the enemy were to find them, they would be completely wiped out!
As their past fated encounter was openly spoken of and their stances aligned in the same direction, they were now united. Since they had some free time at the moment, they spoke about recent happenings, exchanging information and intelligence.
First Court King Qinguang suddenly exclaimed, "Young Master Yun, your cultivation base improvement is extraordinarily fast!"
He could not help but give such a loud exclamation. The last time he saw Yun Yang, the latter was only a nuisance of the sixth or seventh level in mystical Qi. Now, Yun Yang was already in the third heaven, a cultivator who was soon to reach his fourth level in the heaven realm. It would be an underestimation to describe the speed of his improvement as merely 'fast'.
Compared to himself, Yun Yang would have long ago surpassed him if he had not absorbed the abundant Yin Qi from the Haunting Temple. However, the First Court King was aware that the overly concentrated absorption of Yin Qi had caused their foundation in the cultivation realm to become unstable. For a long time to come, they would hardly be able to make another breakthrough.
In other words, while it seemed that their cultivation base level had taken a massive stride forward, the price they had paid for it was equally immense. It was not as bad as a severe loss per se, but the cons were still greater than the pros. If Yun Yang continued to advance forward at this speed, it was only a matter of time before the youth surpassed the underworld king – what was more, the time required to achieve this wouldn't be that long!
"Your Highness has praised me too highly. To me, the growth of your cultivation base is the true definition of what can be considered as fast," Yun Yang spoke sincerely.
The last time he met King Qinguang, Yun Yang's cultivation base was formidable, nevertheless, the youth felt that the King's cultivation base was still unrivaled. Yun Yang had also come to the conclusion that King Qinguang's cultivation base was, at most, a beginner level of the heaven realm and was weaker than that of Venerable Lord Saber's, after he had fought with the latter.
Yun Yang had one too many mythical encounters during his time since, acquiring plenty of treasured gems and resources as well as obtaining a multitude of providence. This was how his current cultivation base level had reached its height. Yet when he looked at King Qinguang now, he was still as vague, high, and mighty. This had at least told of the first court king's cultivation base that must be at least two realms higher than his, maybe even more.
The higher one ascended in the cultivation realm, the harder it was for further improvement to be made. A heaven's difference between peaks was exactly what it was – the difficulty in advancing to another heaven of an ace cultivator was definitely much higher than for a low-level cultivator to advance to another realm. In spite of this challenge, the Ten Court Yama Kings could improve so swiftly in such a short amount of time, while depending on the Haunting Temple, as they battled with their lives. It highlighted nothing but Concourse of the Underworld's cultivation method that was both unique and unpredictable.
As Yun Yang pondered this he could not help asking, "Uh… Brother King Qinguang, the cultivation method that you're cultivating…could you please describe it in more detail?"
After some consideration, the king replied, "It's not much of a secret. Our master discovered a relic by chance years ago and that relic had a special cultivation method within; it only contained the basic introduction method. After master brought it out and tried to cultivate it, he realized that not only was the method potent, its subsequent improvement is magically rapid too."
"As master shifted to cultivate using this cultivation method, he advanced to a point where he could rival the world's heroes in just a dozen years."
"It's just that the more remarkable a cultivation method is, the same degree of stringency applies to the cultivators."
King Qinguang sighed thankfully to himself. He was genuinely grateful for his master accepting him as a disciple instead of others years ago.
"A cultivation method that contains only the introduction part is so magical? May I ask what the requirement of the method is? What's so stringent about it?" asked Yun Yang curiously.
Probing about other cultivator's cultivation arcane had always been the biggest taboo among cultivators but Yun Yang was too curious; he thought he and King Qinguang clicked well too, so he ignored this taboo completely.
"Our lineage is really one of a kind," First Court King Qinguang said with pride, "Although our cultivation method advances quickly and is very powerful, when it reaches a certain stage, we have to return to where the relic is kept to be able to activate the follow-up cultivation method."
"There's such a requirement? How bizarre!" Yun Yang was surprised.
How powerful must one be to be able to set such a limitation? It was beyond one's expectation, imagination, and knowledge!
"Do you know the time period that the relic of your school belongs to?"
"Not at all, but it must have been a very long time ago. In fact, although we have investigated extensively regarding the source of this cultivation method, sifting through old legends or historical records, there is simply no clue or record related to our arcane method. It is like as if it has never appeared on this continent. We're the first batch in the history of Tianxuan's cultivators to have encountered and used this method in thousands of years."
"Furthermore, when my master wanted to activate the second stage, he actually couldn't do it."
"Couldn't do it? What cultivation is this that it has such strict conditions?" Yun Yang was growing even more curious.
"That condition is absolutely peculiar. It's a whole new story compared to ordinary cultivation. The first condition was the establishment of the Concourse of the Underworld. Even the Ten Court Kings of the underworld must follow the order and job scope. After the ten Yama Kings, there has to be Black and White Impermanence, Nether Judge and whatnot."
The First Court King scratched his head, saying, "All these people have to fill up the duties and their cultivation level must reach the required stage before the nether cultivation arcane can really be initiated. As long as the requirements are met, to become unrivaled in this world is a piece of cake!"
Unrivaled in this world? Piece of cake?
Yun Yang was dumbfounded. Was he boasting?
With King Qinguang and his group's capacity as well as their master's ability, it might not actually be a boast. Yun Yang questioned inquired further, "May I ask which senior's legacy is it? Why does it sound so high and mighty? According to the procedure, isn't it like forming a mini imperial court? One that's just slightly more ghoulish!"
King Qinguang nodded in agreement and said, "We thought the same. But when I said the conditions are bizarre, they really are indeed. To achieve a continuous legacy and continue to advance, the Concourse of the Underworld really gives its all to develop and flourish."
Yun Yang exclaimed, "Nothing is impossible in this great world, the world's mysteries are unpredictable indeed. I've truly never heard of something so mystical, what an eye-opener it is for me today."
"This is not even the most peculiar of all. My master said that when he got this legacy, the relic actually didn't contain any explanation. There were only ten words carved on a rock," said King Qinguang.
"Ten words?" Yun Yang had always prided himself on being knowledgeable and reading a lot. There were hardly things he did not know of in this world thus he asked with interest, "What words? Maybe we can get some hints from these words."
King Qinguang frowned as he replied, "The ten words have no beginning nor ending. If there were clues to them, we'd have pursued it long ago. The ten words are 'breeze blows in the universe, cloud drifts outside the sky', we've studied it for so many years but we haven't a single clue. Young Master Yun, it's better that you don't waste your time and effort pursuing such pointless inquiry into these words."
Yun Yang frowned as well as he murmured, "Breeze blows in the universe, cloud drifts outside the sky?"
He racked through the memories in his mind, scratching his head, and said, "I have a slight impression of most of the ancient books in this continent; notable events, experts, and cultivation methods throughout these thousands of years. I can fairly remember them all but why don't I have any impression of these two phrases?"
King Qinguang answered, looking slightly troubled, "Right. Logically, how can someone who's able to set all this up be unknown? Since the relic exists in this continent, how can such remarkable expert be unknown, without any documentation or recording?"
"Since these two phrases are engraved on the rock specifically, they must be very famous and could very likely represent this person, but how is it possible that I have no impression of such phrases?"
Yun Yang was deep in thought, frowning. This legacy of the Concourse of the Underworld was very strange indeed. To leave behind such an earth-shattering mythical legacy that was so intricately setup, such that the connecting parts could only be carried out after certain terms were met, it was unimaginably mystical.
Everything was pointing to the fact that the person who had setup this relic must have done it in a very graceful manner, when his cultivation base was at his pinnacle. Additionally, he might not have found an adequate heir during his later years, and instead, he had plotted such a test in anticipation for one who was fated to receive it.
This basically meant that the person's cultivation base far exceeded all the experts in this world! Then, the saying of becoming unrivaled being a piece of cake could very well be true.
But one question remained, who was this person? Why was there no clue or information regarding their identity?
Yun Yang's thoughts were flying around everywhere for a moment; King Qinguang's initially hopeful gaze slowly turned into a bitter chuckle. "The greater the hope, the stronger the disappointment. It looks like Young Master Yun doesn't know the source of our school too."
Evidently, King Qinguang regarded Yun Yang very highly and harbored a massive hope on his abilities. After all, Yun Yang was a legacy of the Nine Supremes; he too had a mystical and bizarre legacy so he might have some knowledge regarding such things. However, it seemed that these were entirely different occasions.
Yun Yang coughed dryly and replied, "I honestly have no idea, but since you have received the legacy, there must have been a day when you got to know the story of your cultivation method."
"That's true too. All in all, the Haunting Temple was that person's effortful setup, a place to assist his heir's cultivation. There are a total of eighteen spots in this world and we have only found one up till now," the First Court King grimaced.
"The other seventeen unknown spots are both honey and poison to use at the same time – because ten of us have already almost lost our lives for this one here. It really is an exceptionally brutal place."
There was lingering fear hovering on King Qinguang's face. "If the remaining seventeen Haunting Temples are all so dangerous, I don't know how many among us will survive in the end."
"There are actually seventeen more…" he trailed off.
Yun Yang gasped, feeling that the Concourse of the Underworld's future could grow without limit the more they talked. Just one Haunting Temple could already elevate the Yama Kings and entourage so much; if all seventeen were to be found, how terrifying could their legacy could be pushed to?
Just thinking about it was amazing! Perhaps, being unrivaled was not the goal at all – but to achieve it like a piece of cake was their true aim!
As for the danger and risk, Yun Yang did not think much about it. After all, a remarkable encounter must be accompanied by a great risk. How could one make it to the world's pinnacle without a little storm? Even if it were the worst quality of a novel, no one would write it that way now.
Thinking deeper, since the Haunting Temples were setup by the mysterious expert to cultivate his heir, there must be a chance of survival inside; but it all depended whether the ones in it could find them.
Much later into the night, Yun Yang slipped out of Tiantang City with First Court King Qinguang and they sped along their way. After several turns, they arrived at a very obscure location.
When Yun Yang actually met the remainder of the Concourse of the Underworld, it was then that he truly understood how bad their situation was.
Second Court King Chujiang's arm laid limply while a big part of his chest was punctured; his leg seemed to be broken too, while wounds peppered his body. He was barely conscious, his breathing tinged with the copper scent of blood.
Third Court Emperor Song was not as severely injured but one of his ears had clearly been torn off and later reattached. He was drenched in blood; with a saber wound on his right shoulder that extended almost to his ribs.
King Wuguan suffered only from internal injuries without obvious external wounds, nonetheless, his combat power was obviously stripped by now. King Yama was the only one who was mostly intact but he was pale, looking as if all the colour had been drained from him. King Biancheng had a piercing wound that went from his right chest straight to the back, he looked weak and powerless. King Taishan's right leg was completely crushed and he was in a state of coma. The other Yama Kings did not look too good either.
As for the concourse's two Gold ranked assassins, they barely had a breath left in them. The so-called survivors were only better off than the dead in the sense that they were still breathing. As for the master of the Ten Court Kings, a sculpted lean elderly man, he was almost gone; his breathing so shallow that it was almost indiscernible.
"How can it be so serious…" Yun Yang quickly retrieved the medicine Lei Dongtian gave him and passed them to the ones who looked the worst. He then went behind the elder and cultivated the Endless Divine Art to deliver it into the latter and fight for his life, pulling him back from the brink of death.
As Yun Yang hustled, time flew. It was deep into the night when he finally hauled the handful of men from the brink of death, with them looking slightly better now. His actions took a heavy toll on Yun Yang and while King Qinguang looked tired as well, there was a flash of relief in his face.
Their injuries were still serious but at least their lives were no longer in immediate threat after being treated by Yun Yang. This was the best it could be at the moment. What was left was to slowly recover their health; even if it took a long time, it was much better than precariously treading the line between life and death.
"You guys can't keep staying here!"
Yun Yang looked at the surroundings. "This environment is bad and doesn't help in recuperation. Besides, there isn't any replenishment of resources. It's very isolated too, if one were to search here intentionally, you guys might be discovered. And if you're discovered, I'm afraid there's no escape."
"Let's just move to my residence!"
Yun Yang continued, "My place is much better than here."
That was indeed the intention of the Yama Kings in looking for Yun Yang anyway so when the latter had suggested it voluntarily, they had no objection.
As the night crept deeper, Yun Yang sent his men and instructed Shui Wuyin's intel system to closely observe the surrounding movement. Stealthily, the Concourse of the Underworld's personnel were all moved to and carefully placed within the Residence of Yun.
Of course these people could not stay in the rooms on the ground floor as they posed too large a target. Instead, all of them were assigned to the underground chambers. The Residence of Yun had very spacious underground rooms anyway.
As the move was completed and Yun Yang finally could breathe a sigh of relief, he heard a panicked voice from the outside just as he was about to rest.
"Yun Yang, Yun Yang, are you there?" It was Ji Lingxi's voice.
Yun Yang sprang up, charging out as he discerned the anxiety lacing the lady's voice. "What is it?"
"Sister Lan… Sister Lan is gone…" Ji Lingxi was weeping. "She – she left a letter and was gone. I can't find her anywhere."
Yun Yang was struck, feeling a thunderbolt crackle above him. He staggered, his vision blacking out, as he almost collapsed.