In Qianzhou of Great Jin, Tian Long Mystic Mountain was like a giant dragon splitting the entire region in half.
Tian Long Mystic Mountain stretched thousands of miles. It was the birthplace of Tian Long Taoism, the top school in Jin, and the holy land of martial arts that everybody in Great Jin yearned for.
The three main streams of martial arts in Jin were Tian Long Taoism, Mingyi School, and the Sect of Flame as the supreme.
Among those sects, Mingyi School was a strong supporter of Jin Dynasty and had inextricable ties with the Jin royal family. There were even several Mingyi School masters who were descended from the royal family, thus making the sect the strongest backer of Jin royalty. Tian Long Taoism, on the other hand, had a history that stretched far into the past. Even though they were not as close to the Jin Royalty, the sect was closely linked to the aristocratic families of Jin. The sect was considered to have the huge influence over the locals of Jin. Compared with the other two, the Sect of Flame was a pain for the royal family. Their influence was rooted in the grassroots of rural Jin. In history, many rebellions against the Jin Royalty were intricately linked with the Sect of Flame. Hence, the royal family regarded it as a huge threat and constantly tried to suppress it with violence. On the surface, the sect seemed to suffer a heavy blow. But a single spark can start a prairie fire, as a sentence in a book said. In just ten years, the sect would flourish again. It was a never-ending cycle.
On this day, the sky was clear and cloudless. A couple of birds occasionally soared over the blue sky. Everything appeared harmonious and peaceful.
At the Sanjue Mountain of Tian Long Mystic Mountain, a green-robed young man sat on a protruding rock with a bloody lamb leg in one hand and a sharp knife in the other. He cut part of the bloody meat now and then, throwing it in front of him.
A One-eyed Wolf the size of a calf lay on the ground close to him. If Junior Leopard was here, he would have identified it as the One-eyed Wolf of West Mountain in the legend spread in their village for hundreds of years. It was also the same West Mountain wolf he had once seen himself.
The ferocious One-eyed Wolf was now as well-behaved as a neighborhood dog. The wolf caught the meat the young man threw in its mouth. After chewing and swallowing the meat in huge gulps, the wolf looked at the young man again, eyes full of yearning.
"What a gluttonous old dog!" the young man scolded with a laugh, before throwing the lamb leg at the wolf. It swiftly caught the leg and relished in the remaining meat.
A burst of fragrance came from behind the young man, followed by the sound of harsh and hurried footsteps. "Chief, news from Wu family is here!"
The newcomer was a sultrily-dressed maiden. She wore a veil over her face, but it was so thin that it concealed little of her face. One could still faintly see her refined face, and the veil only added a misty sense of beauty to her.
The maiden made light steps behind the young man and handed him a note with only a few words. After finishing reading the note, his face revealed an expression of smugness.
"Good. You can go!" With a flick of his hand, the paper disappeared into the white fog. The maiden bowed and turned around to leave.
Just as the maiden had turned around, taking just a few steps, she suddenly stopped. There was a man who had just appeared at the corner. She was visibly shocked to see that man and lowered her head.
"En!" The man was unconcerned about her blunder and just made a slight nod. He walked towards the younger man sitting on the rock. Without saying another word, the maiden left.
Only when the maiden disappeared amid the woods, did the man speak. "Your cultivation is getting better and better. I had been very careful, but you still noticed me!"
"The bloody scent from your body is too thick. This time, you killed too many people. I can even sense their vengeful spirits clinging to you!" the young man replied with a smile, unconcerned.
"Oh, I did kill many people lately!" The man nodded, looking somewhat unhappy.
The man was tall and robust, looking about 26 or 27 of age. He had bushy eyebrows that framed his wide eyes. He was dressed in a thin practice uniform, with his two sturdy arms unclothed. There were visible beard strands that were not cleanly shaved. His body emitted a frank air that showed he was not one to follow the red tape. In contrast, the young man sitting on the rock had a cold, bleak air to him. His eyes were especially haunting, as if they were vipers hiding in the shadows. People can't help feeling uneasy seeing those eyes.
When it came to such a gaze, the man called Chief Lei was not bothered about it. They had known each other for decades. If he could not even bear it, he would rather just smash his head into tofu until he died instead.
"I think you will be interested in these things that I got from a branch altar of the Sect of Flame!" While speaking, he fished several things resembling books from his chest and handed them to the young man.
The young man took the books and tucked them into his chest without taking a look.
"Don't you think you're too obsessed with studying secret skills? Be careful that these secret skills will corrupt your true character!"
"I know my true character best!" said the young man. "You shouldn't imitate those old fogeys who like to act profoundly. How was it? Did you find anything interesting on your journey?"
"There's nothing new at all!" Chief Lei came up and sat directly on the muddy floor. "It was like the usual. Fought a battle, killed someone, then came back!"
"But the people you killed weren't ordinary folks. Your name was spread so far that it reached Tian Long Mystic Mountain. The whole sect was discussing you a few days ago. This time, you really scored a big achievement. The next master of Tian Long Taoism can be no one but you." The young man replied coldly.
Chief Lei was insusceptible to the young man's tactic. "Don't hold this issue against me. We both know the truth. I did have a little achievement, but it was those old fogeys who were deliberately making a fuss about it. If you want the position, you can fight for it. If you don't want it, don't you dare mock me. Don't you think that's too heartless of you? Did you think I want that good-for-nothing position?!"
"Nevertheless that good-for-nothing position must be filled and it must be someone out of us three!" the young man said. "You know that's not my ambition. Neither of us wants it, but there are now people who want you in that seat and are helping you. I don't disagree. But I can't just let this issue affect me, can I?!"
"Oh, did it affect you?!" Chief Lei's expression changed. "What did they do to you?!"
"Don't you notice that I'm staying too long on Sanjue Mountain? I suggest you take a walk around the sect and see what the disciples are talking about me. Ah, and send a word to those old fogeys for me. Tell them not to overdo it, or I wouldn't mind tearing down the plaque of Longyin Summit."
"Hahahahaha!" Chief Lei finally burst out into hearty laughter. "Fine, fine. I'll tell them what you said. But I am curious. Since when a brat like you begin caring about your reputation? Did you perhaps found a girl and changed your character for her sake?!"
"Do you think I'm a womanizer like you?!" The young man rolled his eyes. "I don't care about my reputation, but I don't want the people I hate to be happy either. I especially don't want those people who simply can't die of old age become smug over tarnishing my good name!"
"I understand. I'll inform them!" Chief Lei nodded and suddenly said, "Right. We haven't seen each other for half a year, have we? How about it? Let's spar and see what kind of new secret skills you've studied!"
"No. I've been under some stress lately. I'm not fit to fight," The young man answered plainly, turning down Chief Lei's suggestion.
"How interesting. This is the first time you've turned me down in a decade. It seems that the top genius of Tian Long Taoism has found an awesome new secret skill!"
"Hmph!" The young man snorted. He stood up and disappeared into the thick woodlands with the One-eyed Wolf, leaving Chief Lei sitting alone with a curious smile.
A cool breeze rose out of the blue, scattering leaves on the ground.
"Oh, I really don't understand. If you're so obsessed with improving your strength, why aren't you researching special techniques that can communicate with the heaven and earth, but put all your focus into studying secret skills instead?!"