Ling Xian’s eyes beamed with delight and impatience. He had been plagued with increasing hopelessness in the past few days. This was the best news.
Whether or not he could acquire them was not a concern at the moment. Knowing the items’ whereabouts gave him hope.
Hope was all he needed.
"Guess." Lin Qing Yi shot him a keen smile.
Ling Xian frowned as he proceeded with uncertainty, "Could it be… the Seventh Princess."
"Smart." Lin Qing Yi smiled broadly and continued, "You are correct, she indeed has one of the items you seek, Wood of the Warming Soul."
"Wood of the Warming Soul? How big?" Ling Xian asked enthusiastically.
"Let me think," Lin Qing Yi pondered a moment. "I recall seeing it on her. She wears it around her neck. It’s perhaps the size of an index finger."
Ling Xian was elated. Remembering the words of the Keeper of Land and Sea, only a little was enough to save Liao Cang Xiong. Using Wood of the Warming Soul as an example, a piece the size of a thumb was enough to stabilize Liao Cang Xiong’s conditions. A piece the size of an index finger was enough to wake him.
Ling Xian was elated for this reason.
Liao Cang Xiong would be saved!
There was a light at the end of this dark tunnel.
Seeing Ling Xian’s dramatic reaction to such news, Lin Qing Yi asked inquisitively, "Ling Xian, is your soul damaged?"
"No, it's the soul of someone of great importance to me," Ling Xian calmed his nerves and responded softly.
"Someone of great importance? Who?" Lin Qing Yi demanded instinctively.
"Well... I cannot say." Ling Xian knew he could not breathe a word even to those closest to him. If words got out, the world would descend into madness. Him and the lives and souls of all nine Immortals inside the Painting would be at risk.
Lin Qing Yi lifted an eyebrow as she recounted the rumors she had heard of. The possibility tugged at her heartstrings, but she pretended all was well. "You are speaking of the exquisite lady of the Ling House?"
This inquisition startled Ling Xian. But he quickly recovered and assured her, "No, no, an Elder, but I can’t elaborate any further."
"Is that so…" Lin Qing Yi’s voice trailed off. She did her best to feign interest but was nonetheless ecstatic over Ling Xian’s explanation.
"Seems like I have no choice but to go to the Capital."
Ling Xian sighed. He understood the dangers that awaited him at his destination. But in the Capital he would find the Wood of the Warming Soul. To save Liao Cang Qiong, he must risk everything to obtain this magical item from the Seventh Princess.
"Ling Xian, don’t worry, the Seventh Princess is like a sister to me. She will give you Wood of the Warming Soul." Lin Qing Yi beamed with delight. She did not wish to part with Ling Xian again. She also believed that the Princess was powerful enough to protect Ling Xian from the Prince.
"We’ll deal with that after we arrive." Ling Xian shook his head. He didn’t want to owe Lin Qing Yi any favors, so he changed the subject sharply. "You are certain that the Princess will and can protect you?"
"More certain than anything. If anyone could rival the forces of the Prince, it’s the Princess. She is just as strong, just as powerful. Her armies are spread across the land. She has equal opportunity of becoming the Crown Princess," Lin Qing Yi said fiercely.
"Sounds promising," Ling Xian nodded and asked, "The Zhou Dynasty allows females to be in such position of authority?"
"Correct, perhaps not the other dynasties, but certainly the Zhou Dynasty. The founding ruler of the Dynasty was a female Empress. So women are certainly allowed to assume the throne," Lin Qing Yi explained.
Ling Xian finally rested assured and said, "Well then, when I return, we head for the Capital."
"You still insist on going? It’s too dangerous. Your portraits would be everywhere on the streets. There will be countless soldiers looking for you."
"Not a problem. The entire Sunset City is no match for me."
Ling Xian smiled softly. His voice exuded confidence, his expression calm and calculated. Lin Qing Yi shuddered and got momentarily lost in his charm. But she recovered quickly and seamlessly. After cursing silently at herself for her lack of self-control, Lin Qing Yi reminded him, "Wear a veil, and be careful."
"Rest assured, wait here, I’ll return shortly."
As he spoke, Ling Xian had already turned around to depart. Covering his face under a bamboo hat, Ling Xian summoned the giant pair of snowy wings and raced in the direction of Sunset City.
Inside the VIP room on the third floor of the Trade Convention building, Zhao Zong Hua was seated in an oak chair, sipping on a cup of tea. Behind this calm façade was much eagerness and impatience.
He was waiting for Ling Xian to arrive and complete the transaction that would propel him to a position at the headquarters.
But he was questioning whether he’d see the boy. He had heard of the episode involving the massacre of the Third Prince’s soul and his men.
The entire population of the Zhou Dynasty had by now heard of this historical incident.
Disbelief was the unanimous initial reaction of anyone who’s heard. Impossible!
The undefeated Third Prince, how could anyone slaughter a part of his soul?
The Third Prince was of royal bloodline. He was untouchable. Who dared to disrespect him? No, this was no disrespect. This was provocation.
Who dares to provoke the Third Prince of the Zhou Dynasty?
Many didn’t believe when they first heard the news. But then, rumor began to spread that upon hearing the news himself, the Third Prince descended into a fit of rage and smashed everything in his vicinity. People had no choice but to believe everything that had happened.
The entire nation fell into a state of shock. The Emperor himself had been shocked as well, albeit only initially. After a few moments, he broke into a violent laughter.
No one could confidently say why he was laughing out of control.
A violent storm was quickly and indiscriminately sweeping across the land.
Ling Xian’s name would be remembered for all eternity.
Of course, no one yet knew his name. They only knew the image of a fearless youth dressed in white and swinging an undefeatable halberd.
What an implausible achievement!
Within a short half year's time, Ling Xian’s name echoed across the land for a third time. The first time he conquered hearts across Yunzhou and the House of Wan Jian. Then, he reawakened Elfkind who had not appeared for millennia and the Book of Genesis. This was thus the third time.
This was all made possible by the strongest of talents and the purest of hearts.
In a half year's time, Ling Xian managed to achieve what most would not even dare dream of achieving in their lifetime. These events defied the laws of nature.
"Ah, who knows if he could make it here. Regardless of his powers, he should know to go into hiding after offending the Third Prince."
Zhao Zong Hua let out a long, disappointing sigh. If Ling Xian failed to show, he would not be getting any of the Healing Dans. A promotion would be out of his reach.
To be promoted to the headquarters had been a lifelong dream. This dream was drifting away from him.
But just as Zhao Zong Hua frowned harder, a soft laughter swept across the air and lit up his gloomy face.
"Manager Zhao, I’m late, please accept my apologies."
"Ha ha, no need to apologize. I’m glad you are here." Zhao Zong Hua rose from his chair. He looked around and saw that Ling Xian was yet to present himself other than his voice. He continued, "Show yourself, don’t worry, you are safe here."
As his voice trailed off, the roof of the three-story structure opened. Ling Xian dropped onto the floor without making the slightest of sound.
Ling Xian walked towards the elderly man and bowed as he arrived in front of him. "Please forgive me. I am being pursued all across the Zhou Dynasty. I do not wish to implicate you or the Trade Convention."
"No need to apologize. The roof can be easily fixed with a few stones. I should be thanking you for thinking of our position." Zhao Zong Hua waved his hand, summoned a cup of tea for Ling Xian and gestured for him to sit.
"Manager Zhao is too hospitable." Ling Xian smiled softly, "I’m now an infamous convict. The order for my capture has perhaps by now reached neighboring dynasties."
"Young master, you are correct. The Third Prince has issued the order for your capture. It has reached every corner of the Zhou Dynasty," Zhao Zong Hua explained with a look of admiration.
He had been in the audience yesterday as the event unfolded. In this moment, he felt nothing but respect and fear for the young man sitting next to him.
"An order is just an order. There’s nothing to fear. When I slaughtered his soul, I had expected this would be the outcome," Ling Xian said peacefully without a hint of fear.
Zhao Zong Hua responded with a hapless shake of his head and continued, "Let’s not talk about that. You are here now, let’s discuss price for the Healing Dans."
"Manager Zhao can name the price. If I deem it fair, the 50 Dans are yours." Ling Xian sipped on his tea as he stared at the grey-haired man with anticipation.
He was eager to hear how much the Trade Convention was willing to part with.
He would expect nothing less than something astronomical.