Hearing the sound of Zhou Bao, Zhu Ba dared not neglect it and hastened to withdraw his Demon Devil Needles. Then he sniggered and said, "It's all attributed to Your Excellency's teaching. If not for the fact that Your Excellency is generous enough to impart to me the Demon Devil Needles, I would still..."
"Good, good. As I've mentioned, don't be so polite to me. Although I passed down the Demon Devil Needles to you, considering you've done so much for me over these years, we're even now. Plus, I don't have many experts on my team. The more powerful your strength is, the greater use you will provide me. Meanwhile, since my use of the Demon Devil Needles keeps lessening, who else would I give it to except you?"
The Demon Devil Needles were the first celestial device that Zhou Bao had obtained. Although it was at the Psychic Level, it was extremely useful and had weathered Zhou Bao through loads of dangerous situations. But later, many of the needles were snapped into pieces during his encounters with strong enemies, and as the cultivation of Zhou Bao grew gradually, he used it less and less and finally shelved it away. Then, as Zhou Bao wanted to practice the Extreme Yin Heavenly Sword of the Yin and Yang Heavenly Sword and began to search for the Earth Vein Evil Qi with the Cold Attribute, he happened to find several places with the Earth Vein Evil Qi suitable for practicing the Demon Devil Needles, though he failed to get ahold of any earth vein that was fit for his practice of the Extreme Yin Heavenly Sword. Thus, with the idea of "the more, the better", he refined the Demon Devil Needles once more and conveniently gifted it as well as the Demon Devil Formation to Zhu Ba to enhance his strength.
However, it was almost impossible to make Zhu Ba, a man with a careless mind, figure out the wonder of the Demon Devil Needles and operate them as freely as Zhou Bao had. After several tries, Zhu Ba completely abandoned the idea of practicing the Demon Devil Formation, but only focused on exercising his control over the 49 Demon Devil Needles with his own divine thoughts.
Speaking of Zhu Ba, he was truly a lucky guy, for he succeeded in activating his hidden bloodline and got the hang of divine thoughts with a cultivation merely at Level Five. Now, with the 49 Demon Devil Needles, he would have a chance to fight back even when facing Seventh-level experts. But of course, wanting to bombard his enemies to death and bypassing ranks like Zhou Bao had done was something out of the question.
Also, when Zhou Bao exited training, the most excited one was, of course, Zhu Ba. The one who benefited most from Zhou Bao among those original commanders of the Navy of Jiang City was still Zhu Ba.
"Your Excellency, thank god you finally exited training. We're having an eventful time recently!"
"Eventful?" Zhou Bao's eyes narrowed a bit, and a shilling trace of murderous intent was given off by him. "What's up? Another guy who should know better about us wants to seek undue advantages?"
"Not that actually. It's just that Kunlun Mountain has sent someone here!"
"Kunlun Mountain? What Kunlun Mountain?!" Zhou Bao was a little confused.
"I'm not clear about that, either. But Jiang Xiao seems to know something. He is having a headache about this these days. That damn ambassador from Kunlun Mountain has a cultivation of Level Seven and powerful Gang Qi all over his body! I'm not his match, but fortunately, that bloke has been sensible enough not to make any trouble after learning that Your Excellency was busy doing closed-door training. He only said that he would further the discussion with Your Excellency after you exited training."
"First, go and summon Jiang Xiao here!" Zhou Bao nodded to show that he got it, and asked Zhu Ba to fetch Jiang Xiao.
"A Level-Seven expert! A school which can send out Level-Seven experts! Their strength should never be underestimated. It seems that another school has come for my Pure Yang Celestial Device, the Golden Flame Mirror. Level Seven, Level Seven! Isn't Golden Rooster here? I wonder whether they've bumped into each other or not!"
While thinking, he saw Zhu Ba come running toward him followed by Jiang Xiao, who had an anxious expression on his face. Zhou Bao immediately knew that there was some trouble.
"Your Excellency, you finally have left the training! Recently, I have been almost worried to death!" At the sight of Zhou Bao, Jiang Xiao began to pour out his grievances as if he was going to drown Zhou Bao in them.
"Worry? What for!" Zhou Bao smiled. "Merely some guy from Kunlun Mountain came here. Why are you so upset? Well, what on earth is this Kunlun Mountain? Why do you care about it so much?"
"Your Excellency, you don't know what Kunlun Mountain is?" Hearing Zhou Bao's words, Jiang Xiao was a little taken aback.
"Should I know?"
"Your Excellency, Kunlun Mountain is one of the largest schools in Northern Yuan, only second to the Palace of Destruction Demon. Kunlun Master, one of the Three Grandmasters in Northern Yuan in previous years, is from Kunlun Mountain!"
"One of the Three Grandmasters in Northern Yuan!"
At this point, Zhou Bao did recall that when Northern Yuan was still in existence, this Kunlun Master, along with Dark Lord Mie Chen and Living Buddha Ba Siba as the so-called Three Grandmasters, was indeed receiving offerings from Northern Yuan.
Only because the war initiated by the Great Jin was way beyond anyone's expectation and its result was also extremely surprising that the performance of these Three Grandmasters during the war paled in comparison with the legends about them. And many people even believed that the Three Grandmasters were not worthy of their reputation.
But Zhou Bao never dared to think as they all did.
Among the Three Grandmasters, Dark Lord Mie Chen was the one who he had come across, and that encounter was not a comfortable memory at all.
At that time, his strength still belonged to another realm and no Pure Yang Celestial Device was at hand, but he oddly injured Mie Chen with his Fiery Eyes and gave Wang She an opportunity to rise and devastate Mie Chen.
Although he was badly injured in that fight, he shared the current idea of the people in thinking that the Three Grandmasters were nothing more than this.
But as his strength was growing day by day, every time he looked back upon that prior situation, he started to realize how lucky he had gotten in that fight.
The cultivation of Mie Chen was about to break through Level Nine then, which was in the Demi-Mysterious Realm. If Mie Chen had not been that reckless, he would not have had the opportunity to even activate his Fiery Eyes. Further, if his Fiery Eyes had not been able to directly attack the spirit, which was really beyond the expectation of Mie Chen, Wang She might not have successfully imposed a sneak attack on him!
It was a string of accidents and coincidences that enabled them to miraculously turn the tables. But now, if you asked Zhou Bao to repeat his victory once more, he would stand no chance to achieve that.
That was a miracle!
And as for Ba Siba and Kunlun Master, they had not gotten the chance to show off their abilities—Ba Siba's cultivation already topped the Metaphysical Realm, but he was subdued by a fairy weapon, which was the most helpless situation a man could be caught in. Precisely because he never had an opportunity to strike, others had not been able to witness the real demeanor of this Living Buddha with the Golden Body.
Once a fairy weapon struck out, it was time to retreat and recoil even if you had thousands of armed forces.
Kunlun Master reluctantly withdrew his forces to Kunlun Mountain, and since then, not even a single piece of information about him had ever trickled out.
Exactly for this reason, no one had ever seen any of the Three Grandmasters strike in a fight, except for a handful of people. Such a dim performance that they presented to the world was far inconsistent with their titles as the Three Grandmasters. Therefore, after a long time, people reduced this moniker to something that was in name only!
In name only!
Although others might have thought that, Zhou Bao was not stupid enough to believe it. Thus, with the words of Jiang Xiao, Zhou Bao felt his heart sink to his stomach.
"Bring me to meet them!"
The people from Kunlun Mountain were staying right in the little town at the foot of Jilei Mountain.
The town had already taken shape, but due to its remote geography, no inns could be found there. Accordingly, Jiang Xiao developed a small courtyard in the center of the town, which was used to accommodate those who came here requiring a meeting with Zhou Bao. Of course, not any random man was allowed to stay there but only those with high statuses or extraordinary cultivation.
"You're Zhou Bao?"
There were a total of five men from Kunlun Mountain. Their leader was a middle-aged man with a cold look, who was emitting freezing spirit from every bit of his body, rendering Zhou Bao very uneasy.
Aside from him, the other four had also reached a Level Six cultivation. They were wearing clothes that had the same pattern, blatantly announcing that they had come as a party.
Seeing Jiang Xiao guiding Zhou Bao in, before Jiang Xiao could say a word, the middle-aged man directly asked that question in a very impolite tone, which made Zhou Bao quite uncomfortable.
"It seems that men from Kunlun Mountain truly lack some manners!" Zhou Bao put on a stern expression and said. When dealing with those impolite guys, he would not need to treat them with his politeness. "Jiang Xiao, our place does not welcome these guys. Send them away!"
As he spoke, he turned around to leave the courtyard.
"Hold on!" The middle-aged man in the lead darkened his face. "Zhou Bao, if you leave here today, you'll regret it!"
"In all my life, never have I known how to write the term regret!" Zhou Bao looked over his shoulder, his eyes flickering with a fierce light. "Now that you want to provoke us, you've achieved your goal! Get out right now! If you are still in my territory in an hour, I'll start killing!"
"Your Excellency!" Jiang Xiao did not imagine that they would get into such a mess upon first sight, and he began to open his mouth to conciliate them.
"You shut up!" Zhou Bao's eyes turned freezingly cold as he cast him a ferocious glance. "From now on, never bring these nobodies in front of us!"
"Uh, yes!" Seeing the cold look of Zhou Bao, Jiang Xiao's heart thumped abruptly, and he hastily replied and lowered his head.
"Zhou Bao, you will pay for your arrogance!" Behind him, the snarl of the middle-aged man was heard. Zhou Bao did not look back, but a hint of a dismissive smile flitted across his face.
"Kunlun Mountain, isn't it? Well, I'd like to see how powerful the second largest school of Northern Yuan from the legends can be! "
The same as the Central Plains!
In those years, Northern Yuan also had some martial arts schools. However, on this vast prairie, the weak was always the prey of the strong, who had no right to survive. Hence, in this nomadic kingdom, nothing like the little schools or gangs of the Central Plains, which were as numerous as the sand, would exist at all because those local bully gangs that could merely take up land to declare their dominance would have no chance to survive.
A school that managed to survive in this place undoubtedly had solid strength. In fact, the largest school in Northern Yuan was the Palace of Destruction Demon, followed by Kunlun Mountain. Their status was quite the same as the Three Great Sects of the Central Plains, or even surpassed it. But due to the fast change of the world, the two great schools had not gotten around to reacting. Adding in the deterrence of the fairy weapon, the Clear Glass Jade Bottle, both of them finally stopped all of their activities and lay low. Even so, the Great Jin still did not dare to mess with these two schools but acquiesced to their existence. Though the Jin provided fewer offerings to them, they were still treated with privilege. However, Zhou Bao did not care about that, but he did know this situation. It was just that it never occurred to him that he would ever engage with these two schools, so when Zhu Ba and Jiang Xiao mentioned them in the first place, he failed to think about that for a moment.
Nevertheless, he could do nothing even if he had remembered that because he never intended to get on well with those two sects. Putting the Palace of Destruction Demon aside first, it was him who hammered Mie Chen, so how could they be friendly toward him? As to this Kunlun Master, he did not know much about him, nor did he presume that this old turtle would ever show him a smiling face.
Therefore, he had been clinging to the idea that he would never make any contact with those people.
But now, even though he had not contacted them, they had come to contact him. As he stepped into that courtyard, Zhou Bao had sensed an extremely disagreeable emotion. Then, judging from the rude greeting of that middle-aged man at the first sight of him, Zhou Bao realized that Kunlun Mountain wanted to pick a bone with him.
When dealing with anyone who, without having been troubled by him before, came to provoke him first, he was always hard on them. It could be said that he loathed people like them. Thus, just at the first words of that man, he had lost all patience to feign his friendliness in front of those Kunlun Mountain men and directly headed out.
"Your Excellency, Kunlun Mountain was one of the most powerful influences in Northern Yuan. Although Northern Yuan has been overthrown now and people of Kunlun Mountain all became sinners, this downfall has not affected Kunlun Mountain or the Palace of Destruction Demon. These two sects are still of strong influence. Moreover, lots of remaining people of Northern Yuan are still struggling to survive on the northern prairie, who also listen to the orders of the two sects. But most of all, Your Excellency, your territory is sitting right in the previous sphere of influence of Kunlun Mountain, so..."
"So I'd better not turn against Kunlun Mountain, right?" Zhou Bao asked with a smile.
"Yes, Your Excellency. I reckon this is for your own good as well as for your territory. It's better not to incur any conflict with those from Kunlun Mountain!"
"Good. From your level and perspective, what you've said does make sense. But Jiang Xiao, there are other things that you don't understand. You think that those Kunlun Mountain guys wouldn't have made trouble for me if I had treated them with manners, but that's not true. Certainly, they would still try every means to come after me, not for anything else, but for my Pure Yang Celestial Device."
Zhou Bao continued in a soft voice, but his face revealed a trace of resignation. "The fact that I have a Pure Yang Celestial Device may have a deterring effect on those idling martial arts practitioners or those small and middle sects and well-known families. However, for Kunlun Mountain, the Palace of Destruction Demon, or even the Mingyi School, this is a chunk of delicious fatty meat that might be a little too greasy to swallow. Besides, considering the shadow of Tian Long Taoism is right behind me, they're just unwilling to act indiscreetly. But they're biding their time to wolf down this fatty meat of mine. Though I've gained some strength so far, I'm still too weak to face those immensely powerful influences. And just because I'm weak, I need to enhance my power more than ever. I have to present my solid strength to let them have something to worry about, to let them know that I'm not the one they can easily mess with. Only by these means can we keep living a peaceful life here. Otherwise, if there is always someone targeting us, your life won't be easy either, will it?"
"So, Your Excellency has picked Kunlun Mountain?"
"Mighty as Kunlun Mountain is, it's still a school in the north. After the collapse of Northern Yuan, its power already has been significantly slashed. They do have some experts at hand, but I also have my Pure Yang Celestial Device. As long as I have it, I'm confident in a fight against a Level Nine expert. Once he makes any unusual moves, I'll have the guts to challenge that Kunlun Master with a real battle!"
"You want to challenge Kunlun Master in a battle?" Jiang Xiao was dumbstruck hearing Zhou Bao's plan, and he almost leaped to his feet in the end when he learned that Zhou Bao intended to fight against Kunlun Master, who was at least a Level Nine expert and a Grandmaster of Northern Yuan, regardless of what others implied. Even though Zhou Bao's fighting record was amazing, no matter how amazing it was, his combat capability was defined as being at the peak of Level Eight, which in no case would be mentioned in the same breath as that of a Level Nine expert!
"Right, challenge Kunlun Master in a battle!" Zhou Bao growled viciously. "Previously, I challenged Wang Yuebai of the Wang family, the purpose of which was actually the same thing—to build up my prestige. It's just because nobody knew that I had a Pure Yang Celestial Device, so it was quite effective to beat a Level Eight expert with it. But now it's different. A Pure Yang Celestial Device is worth much more than a Level Eight expert at the peak level. Therefore, only if I defeat a Level Nine expert in broad daylight can the world know that my combat capability is at Level Nine, so that no one will dare to act recklessly and plot to target us!"
"But, will this work? Your Excellency, we're talking about Level Nine experts! Besides—"
"Besides, his cultivation is at the peak of Level Nine!" Zhou Bao grinned. "If he didn't have such a strong power, why would I make use of him to set up my prestige all over the world?"
"But Kunlun Mountain does have more than one expert aside from him!" Jiang Xiao shook his head repeatedly. "Kunlun Mountain has been thriving and dominating in the northwest for thousands of years, with experts emerging one after another. In addition, a millennium sect like this one is bound to have a Pure Yang Celestial Device!"
"I've already thought this through, and I know for sure that they have a Pure Yang Celestial Device!" Zhou Bao said with a sneer.
"Since you do know they have a Pure Yang Celestial Device, how could you still—"
"They do have one, so what? I'm sure Kunlun Master will never make use of that Pure Yang Celestial Device!"
"Once he uses it, then, even if he kills me, Kunlun Mountain will be doomed to disappear in no time!" Zhou Bao said as he was beaming. "Northern Yuan is now gone, but the two sects are still there. Do you reckon that the Jin Emperor and the Three Great Sects of the Central Plains will let them stay there? The reason that they haven't made a move yet is just that they fear the strength of the two sects. Leaving the Palace of Destruction Demon aside, let's talk about the Kunlun Sect. This is a huge sect, but judging from their performance over the years, they only have one Pure Yang Celestial Device to steady their fate. The second that they use it, the rest of the world will know what their ace card is. When their true strength is unveiled, will you still think that the Three Great Sects would leave them free and unfettered? Above all, since I have a misty relationship with Tian Long Taoism, they will certainly have scruples about that when I challenge Kunlun Master. Plus, Kunlun Master is already a peak Level Nine expert, who must want to maintain his self-respect, so he definitely will not use that Pure Yang Celestial Device at the start."
"But it's always wise to play it safe!"
"Nothing unsafe will happen. I'm not that thick, ok? If something really happens, I'll certainly be the first to run for it. Even with his Pure Yang Celestial Device at hand, Kunlun Master will have no way to stop me once I decide to flee!" Zhou Bao said to Jiang Xiao with a pretty confident smile. "Thus, Jiang Xiao, there is nothing that you need to worry about. It's merely a big school that has already passed its prime. The reason that Kunlun Mountain popped out is just because they badly need my Pure Yang Celestial Device to replenish their strength and that's it!"
"Your Excellency seems to know some inside information that I don't know about!" After hearing Zhou Bao's remarks, a hint of bewilderment flashed through Jiang Xiao's eyes.
"Not inside information, just some tips from a friend!" Zhou Bao waved his hand, turned away, and left.