Extreme north ice field, Dragon Thunder Palace.
In front of the large palace door, Thunder Dragon Venerable and the golden-robed man stood shoulder to shoulder, their eyes closed, and their faces tilted slightly trying to sense something. After a long while, the golden-robed man said, "Venerable, how is it?"
"That magic weapon's spirit has already vanished. Looks like it has been completely suppressed!"
"The method to be able to suppress a magic weapon like the Clear Glass Jade Bottle is indeed extraordinary." Thunder Dragon Venerable softly sighed.
"Actually, it is nothing much. Ma Tianchang's background is mysterious. I suspect that he's a disciple of the Five Manor View," the golden-robed man said plainly.
"Five Manor View?" Thunder Dragon Venerable furrowed his eyebrows. He seemed surprised. "The Five Manor View has not been active in the world for a long time. How could there be disciples running around?"
"Dragon Thunder Palace has been like this for a long time. Why would there be a hero that emerged 10,000 years ago to unify the prairies?" The golden-robed man laughed coldly. "Venerable, don't think that the others are fools. You groomed a disciple to unify the prairies, and then the others groomed a disciple to destroy the Northern Yuan. This can be considered an interaction."
"My Dragon Thunder Palace has no feuds with the Five Manor View. There isn't a need for them to take action 10,000 years later. Old turtle, don't try to spoil the relationship between our two parties."
"Oh, I'm not inciting anything. I merely spoke my views. As for how you think, that is beyond my control. In this world, if there's really a method to easily suppress the Clear Glass Jade Bottle, it'll only be the Five Manor View's Heaven and Earth in Sleeves."
"Heaven and Earth in Sleeves?" Thunder Dragon Venerable was stunned and said, "If he really is a forsaken disciple of the Five Manor View, do you think that he can master the Heaven and Earth in Sleeves?"
"Who knows, just like 10,000 years ago, a forsaken disciple of Dragon Thunder Palace had that kind of strength? Wasn't that way beyond people's expectations?"
"Don't dwell on the past. The Northern Yuan is finished. Your objective here is completed as well. Isn't it time for you to leave? My Dragon Thunder Palace is too small to accommodate you, old turtle."
"Aye aye aye. I know where the limits are. I shouldn't stay around to make you angry, old fella. I know that you feel like slapping me to death right now. I should leave as soon as possible!" Still, he made no movement. Instead, his body turned into a ray of golden light, broke through the heavens, and he disappeared in the blink of an eye in front of the vision of the Thunder Dragon Venerable.
"That damned old turtle!" Seeing the direction that the Mysterious Turtle Sage disappeared, Thunder Dragon Venerable scolded in a low voice. He seemed helpless. The Dragon Thunder Palace was a special existence like the legendary Five Manor View. As the owner of the palace, he might have omnipotent abilities; yet, he couldn't interfere in the matters of the world. Even if Northern Yuan was destroyed, he could only play some tricks. This time, these tricks were thwarted by the appearance of the Mysterious Turtle Sage. He could only give Ba Siba the Heavenly Dragon Divine Elixir. Who knew that Ma Tianchang's camp actually possessed a heaven-defying treasure like the Clear Glass Jade Bottle. Even if Ba Siba ate the Heavenly Dragon Divine Elixir and pushed his cultivation through to the Metaphysic Realm, in front of the ancient treasure, it had no use at all. He was absorbed in an instant. This caused the Thunder Dragon Venerable to be extremely depressed.
Now that things had progressed to such a stage, he also had no solutions.
"Palace Leader, from where you see it, should we...?"
"We don't do anything, and we don't care about anything. The world is changing. All sorts of changes will happen. The Dragon Thunder Palace shall wait silently and watch the changes." Thunder Dragon Venerable waved his hands and entered the palace. Two huge palace doors slowly closed and completely sealed the palace from the outside world. There was no longer any liveliness nor activity.
"What? Robbing the Clear Glass Jade Bottle?" Junior Leopard exclaimed jumping up from his chair. Following that, he violently sat down again and covered his mouth. He stared at Golden Rooster in front of him with a strange expression. "Are you crazy? The Golden Goose Cup hasn't been settled, and now you're hitting on this ancient treasure!"
He was frightened to see Golden Rooster's appearance.
Ever since they had parted ways in South Yuezhou State, Junior Leopard hadn't seen this fellow. He thought that he went into hiding. Who knew that he would suddenly appear in front of him?
"The matter of the Golden Goose Cup had been settled," Golden Rooster said.
"Settled?" Junior Leopard was confused. "I heard that the Golden Goose Cup appeared in Shuzhou a few months ago. The one that held the cup, quite looking like you, was slaughtered. The cup was also stolen."
"The men were sent out by the Immortal Palace. It was a hoax that the cup was robbed. Everything was just for show," Golden Rooster said.
Junior Leopard nodded. "I thought that you wouldn't be satisfied so easily. So that's what it is. The Immortal Palace is very magnanimous to give away a treasure like the cup for free!"
"This wasn't the palace being generous. The cup is a priceless treasure to the common people. To the palace, it has no value. Other than a few outer circle people in the palace, who doesn't have a cultivation of Level Seven and beyond? An extended life of 100 years is not enough for them to risk their lives. As for the intelligence, everybody's cultivation is different. Naturally, they will have different choices. They wouldn't offend me just for a cup!"
"That's true." Junior Leopard smiled. "Anyway, that thing can only be used once."
"Alright, let's cut the nonsense and go straight to what matters. The Clear Glass Jade Bottle is now in Ma Tianchang's camp!"
Junior Leopard interrupted him and said, "With all due respect, Golden Rooster, I didn't agree to do this."
"I won't let you do it for nothing."
"It is not a problem of doing it for free. The problem is the huge risk involved," Junior Leopard said. "A monster at the Metaphysic Realm can't even withstand it for one time. You are asking me to die."
"An ancient treasure like this couldn't be used casually. Each use comes at a great cost," Jin Yuquan said. "Last time, it was used by Ma Tianchang to absorb a Metaphysic Realm expert. It's not easy to use it again."
"So what? Ma Tianchang is not an easy character," Junior Leopard said coldly. "You think that this extermination of Northern Yuan was a coincidence?"
"This time, the person asking the Immortal Palace to lend its hand is the Jin Emperor."
"The Great Jin's emperor asked our palace to take action," Jin Yuquan said. "Don't worry about Ma Tianchang. There'll naturally be someone handling that. Our task is very simple: to infiltrate the camp, find the Clear Glass Jade Bottle, and then steal it."
"In other words, we are going to be thieves?"
"If you have to perceive it that way, then I've got nothing to say," Jin Yuquan smiled bitterly and said. "This matter's risk is not great as long as we search carefully inside the camp, and that'll be it."
"What if we can't find it after searching carefully?"
"If we can't find it, then we come back," Jin Yuquan said. "It is said that the thing is in the big tent. We only need to search within the big tent. If it's not there, then it's not our problem."
"Are you sure that you want to be embroiled in this matter?" Junior Leopard asked with some doubts.
"This matter might sound simple, to just search within the tent. However, it is never simple when considering both parties. One side was the Great Jin's emperor, whose merits have long surpassed his predecessors. The other side was the Yunzhou Governor with unfathomable power and background. To get involved in the battle between these two parties is not a simple matter. The repercussions are endless!"
"It is not us but the Immortal Palace getting involved. We're merely following orders. Relax, the palace won't sacrifice us," Jin Yuquan said.
"I'm still worried," Junior Leopard said. "This is too big. Let me consider it for a few days."
"Are you a coward?"
"It's because I'm a scaredy cat that I could live till today and possess such strength," Junior Leopard said. He didn't have anything he couldn't say in front of Jin Yuquan. "If not, I would be like Wang She. He ridiculously went to the prairies. If I hadn't met him accidentally, he would've died there."
"Wang She's balls are too damn big. However, he benefited a lot from that. After such a battle that risked his life, it had benefits for him entering into the Metaphysic Realm," Jin Yuquan said. "People like us, to put it nicely, are to pursue the limits of martial arts and life. To put it badly, it is to defy the way the world works. To defy the world, if we don't have viciousness and bloodlust, we can't possibly progress."
"That makes sense; however, I still think that the risks are too great."
"Don't you wish to hear about the rewards?"
"I don't!" Junior Leopard shook his head repeatedly and said, "Come tomorrow. I'll give you a reply then."
"Alright, then tomorrow. Kid, you replaced Wang She's position. Now, the two of us are tied together. If you aren't willing to go, I won't go either. I'll have to heap those losses on your head!"
"Alright, who knows maybe I'm saving your life by not going. Who's going to repay this benefactor's deeds?" Junior Leopard asked.
Jin Yuquan didn't bother to answer and left immediately leaving Junior Leopard in deep thought.
This is tricky. I was just about to prepare to go into a retreat and completely digest the benefits I gained from the trip to the prairie. I didn't expect to meet with such a matter. To steal the Clear Glass Jade Bottle? There is something wrong about this. How did the Great Jin Emperor know about the existence of the Immortal Palace? Why would he employ the palace to do it? Golden Rooster didn't want me to think of it as too complicated. However, if I don't, I would be even more anxious.
Junior Leopard touched his chin, furrowed his eyebrows, and moved back and forth within the room weighing the pros and cons of the matter.
What if he didn't go?
The palace would never coerce a person. If he didn't go, and instead looked for a place to undertake a retreat and digest the benefits from the prairies, he might even push his own cultivation to Level Six. This was undoubtedly the best choice. He wouldn't suffer any losses this way as well.
However, he was not reassured. What Jin Yuquan said was right. On the path of cultivation, it was a heaven-defying matter. He had to have a vicious stance and not simply rely on luck.
Ever since he learned martial arts, Junior Leopard encountered danger along the way. In general, the way was still smooth. He had always been blessed. In a short period of time, he had gained immeasurable power. Even though he had experienced quite a few life and death moments, he was always prepared. He relied on the many cards he had in the fighting. He knew what would happen during the fight to some degree. This time was completely different.
He had no clue.
it was the exact reason why he didn't dare to easily make a decision. Deep in his heart, he desired to make the attempt.
Yunzhou Governor Ma Tianchang had always been a mysterious figure. Even though Junior Leopard had never met him, his means of doing things had caused him to be in awe. From his point of view, the extermination of Northern Yuan had long been planned to coerce the Northern Yuan one step at a time. As for this treacherous weather, it was the chance that he had been waiting for. It was precisely because he had sufficient preparations that he viciously grabbed the opportunity. He caused the Northern Yuan, which had stood in the prairies for 10,000 years, to dissolve and face extinction.
With regards to such a character, Junior Leopard not only had respect, he was also curious.
"Maybe it's not a bad thing to witness the Governor's style."
Junior Leopard's heart flashed at such a thought suddenly stopping in his tracks. "This might be a good chance to learn more about the background of the Immortal Palace and the ancient treasure...!"
"I thought that you wouldn't come!"
Against the dark sky, Jin Yuquan silently stood beneath the high walls of Qinlingjun City. Seeing Junior Leopard slowly walking towards him, his eyes flashed a trace of a smile. Seeing the ring on Junior Leopard's finger, he said, "Wang She has even given you the ring. Looks like his injuries are not minor."
"Maybe he would stepped into the Metaphysic Realm after discovery." Junior Leopard said. "Cut the bullshit. Let's go. I want to witness this legendary ancient treasure!"
"Interesting. Yesterday you seemed so unwilling. Now, you are itching to go. What is it exactly that caused you to change so much overnight?"
"I merely thought it through. What you said is right. On the path of cultivation, it's something that is heaven-defying. If I didn't have the courage or viciousness, how could I walk to the end of this path? This time around I'm not doing it for the rewards nor the ancient treasure. It's solely to train my spirit and soul."
"Good. Wang She indeed is not blind," Jin Yuquan laughed heartily. "Then let's go. There are a few hundred miles before us." As he spoke, he moved like an arrow shot from a bow, instantly melding into the dark sky.
Junior Leopard smiled. A green light flashed on his body, a sword light shooting forth. "Shua!" The light shot through a few miles and shrugged off the Golden Rooster.
"Traveling on the reigning sword?" Golden Rooster, maximizing his Lightness Skill, felt a ghastly chill through his body as the green sword light flashed past and soared through the skies into the thick clouds.
"Golden Rooster, don't use that Lightness Skill. There're a few hundred miles to cover." From far away, Junior Leopard's voice condensed into a line and transmitted into the Golden Rooster's ears. He then recovered, "Good lad, I've underestimated you. You've actually become a sword practicer!"
Jin Yuquan's body emitted a golden light without moving as he flew in the air. "I want to see if a sword practicer traveling with the reigning sword is as fast as the legends say."
He mumbled to himself, and his body transformed into a golden light. Just like Junior Leopard, he melded into the clouds and tightly followed the green sword light.
This was the second time that Junior Leopard was really flying.
The first time he was still small. It was when Xue Wuya was kidnapping him and using his blood Gang to travel. Back then, he was just a kid who didn't know anything. Even though he acted calmly, his felt terrified inside. As for the Dragon Flying Technique, with his current strength and understanding towards this cultivation method, he could at most fly for 90 feet. He was still far from achieving the level of traveling through the nine skies. How could he now be traveling with the reigning sword at the speed of light?
In the beginning, Junior Leopard was not used to it. Compared with traveling with the reigning sword, the Dragon Flying Technique was much lower in both speed and height.
"Kid, what a monster you are! How did you become a sword practicer so suddenly?" Jin Yuquan was riding behind on a golden light and rushing forth.
"Hmm, that's where you are wrong. I've always been a sword practicer." Junior Leopard laughed. "It was only that I couldn't travel with the reigning sword."
"What bullshit you are talking! Who in the Jianghu doesn't know that you use hammers!" Jin Yuquan scolded in a low voice. Junior Leopard was considered a renowned figure in the Jianghu now. There were many rumors about him. Everybody knew that this Zhou Bao used metal hammers and specialized in punching skills. He had already condensed his fist intent. There was also an extremely powerful magic weapon on him. Nobody had ever heard that he could use a sword. He was a sword practicer such as had not existed for tens of thousands of years.
"That is Zhou Bao. I'm not Zhou Bao now. I'm Xiao," Junior Leopard said plainly. The strange smiling mask covered the strange smile on his face. "I'm the Immortal Palace's Xiao, not the Wu's Zhou Bao."
Jin Yuquan was dumbfounded. Thinking about that, it's really the case. Ever since Junior Leopard transformed into Xiao, he was wielding an emerald sword, and his sword techniques were not bad.
Seeing that Jin Yuquan was speechless, Junior Leopard said, "Golden Rooster, why don't we compete with each other? Let's see if your Gang Qi is faster than my reigning sword."
"What's the point of competing? A sword practicer's attack power and speed are incomparable," Jin Yuquan said grudgingly. "I see that your sword light is unstable. You must have attained the reigning sword only recently. You should take the opportunity to become familiar with your sword light. Don't bother with all that ridiculously boring stuff."
Junior Leopard felt downcast to be rebutted with one sentence. His sword light intensified, and his speed increased by at least 30% leaving Jin Yuquan in the dust.
"Aye, young fellow is really impulsive. Even if he was traveling with the reigning sword, he must exhaust his cultivation. Even if you reach the place, you'll need to recover your Qi and delay the timing." Jin Yuquan smiled helplessly and quickly forgot about him.
As expected, Junior Leopard's sword light flew for another ten miles before he slowed down. He didn't look as well as before. Jin Yuquan soon caught up. "Alright, little friend, don't play any more tricks. After flying for another 100 miles we'll reach the army camp. Let's be careful not to reveal ourselves!"
The golden light on his body converged. He chose a route where there were thick clouds to cover their tracks.
Junior Leopard thought for a while. The green sword light on his body also converged, and he followed Jin Yuquan. They deftly traveled towards the depths of the prairies.
From high in the sky, the wide grasslands were in plain view.
Even though the snow storm had stopped for a long time, the accumulations in the grasslands had not melted. It was white everywhere, and on the white prairies, there were countless white tents in rows extending all the way into the depths of the prairies.
This was the Great Jin's army camp.
The snow in the prairies stopped the fast attack of the Great Jin army. Under such conditions, it was not practical to carry light and chase the enemies. Hence, Ma Tianchang adopted a method of winning step by step. He divided the 500,000-man army into ten groups. These groups extended all the way down to the prairie borders. Not to mention that the Metal Horse Carriages had already lost their sharpness and boldness. Even if they still had the guts, under a situation where they were all scattered, it wasn't possible for them to summon enough horses and men to begin a resistance. The most important factor now was that the snow not only restricted the Jin army, it also restricted the prairie warriors. On such snow-covered grasslands, the Northern Yuan Metal Horse Carriages were unable to exert its advantage. No matter how fast the horses, the ice made it impossible for them to slip and to regain their footing.
Now, the only thing that the surviving horse carriages could do was to run towards the depths of the prairies. The further they ran, the better it was. Those tribes were not so lucky. They didn't have the army's speed. The only thing they could do was to wait for death, to wait for the Jin army to attack their tribes, and kill all the males and kidnap all the females and children. They would sell them to the slave traders and merchants following the armies, and they would set the whole tribe on fire.
Standing in the skies, they could clearly see dozens of fires. Those were the tribes that were being destroyed.
Jin Yuquan and Junior Leopard's speed gradually reduced. At last, they stopped thousands of feet up in the air.
"There is Ma Tianchang's central army camp!" Jin Yuquan pointed at the numerous camps.
"Northern Yuan is finished just like this!" Junior Leopard didn't reply but instead looked at the neverending prairies and sighed.
"Yes, finished just like that!" Jin Yuquan saw Junior Leopard's mannerism and laughed involuntarily. "Why, can't you bear such result?"
"No, I just feel that things are happening too quickly. It is incredible!" Junior Leopard self-mockingly smiled and said, "Alright, let's not talk about it and start thinking about our next move."
"What time is it now?"
"It is almost the Yin Shi!"
"Wait a while longer. The person giving the imperial order will come soon. At the same time, there'll be a newly appointed supervisor. At that time, Ma Tianchang will survey the camp with him. That's our shot!"