His voice was crispy clear. The Spirit of the Hidden Territory turned ghostly pale.
Ling Xian's words ignited a flame of anger within the Spirit. But he had to admit that Ling Xian was right. He had been selfish and deliberate in his misinformation, not wanting to see Ling Xian emerge alive from the Fantasy.
However, even he was in the wrong, as the Spirit of the Hidden Territory, he reigned supremacy inside his Territory. Aside from the legends of Alchemy, such as the Keeper of Land and Sea herself, he would fear no one. The Hidden Territory inside the City of Qing was of the lowest caliber that only admitted entry to cultivators below the Functional realm. No one should dare challenge his authority within these walls.
Yet he was being lectured mercilessly by Ling Xian. How could he tolerate such insult?
"You are merely a cultivator of the sixth realm, how dare you speak to me this way?" The middle-aged man shouted, "I am the supreme ruler inside this Hidden Territory. Inside these walls, Dragons and Tigers must wait on my hands and feet, you mere cockroach, how dare you threaten me. You wish to destroy me? How arrogant! You deserve to die!"
"It is not up to you what I deserve. It is also not up to you if I should live or die." Ling Xian curled his lip and threw him yet another insult, "you call yourself the supreme ruler, ha, tell me, have you ever seen a supreme ruler being confined at someone else's feet?"
"You asked for it!" The Spirit was infuriated. As he spoke, a murky stream of air slithered out of his pores, circulated above him and came caving down.
"I just want to see how powerful the Spirit of the Hidden Territory actually is."
Ling Xian smirked at the challenge. Standing his ground, Ling Xian did not summon any defensive spells. Instead, he smiled as the circular streams closed down upon him.
This was not yet an attack, only an initial demonstration of threat. While inside the Fantasy, Ling Xian had nearly broke through the Original level of Alchemy. This was nothing.
There are four types of Hidden Territory, ranked in terms of their power: Heaven, Earth, Mystery and Gold. A mere Spirit of a Gold Territory has powers equivalent to a cultivator of the Foundational level. Having survived much more powerful opponents, Ling Xian knew the Spirit could not cause him serious harm.
Of course, this was only the preface of the Spirit's true capabilities. If he wished to engage Ling Xian in a proper duel, perhaps Ling Xian could only manage to last a few rounds.
The question is… does he dare?
He did not. A quick thought of the Keeper of Land and Sea was enough to send shivers down his spine.
He knew the Keeper of Land and Sea had favored the youth standing in front of him. She left him with the freedom to what he liked without fearing the consequences. She was also warning the Spirit not to harm him.
For this reason, the Spirit had decided against killing Ling Xian. Even if he did succeed in murdering Ling Xian, that frightening woman would surely come after him.
"What are you waiting for? You rule this world, are you afraid of a lowly cultivator?" Seeing that the Spirit was hesitant, Ling Xian attempted to provoke him. Putting one arm behind his back, Ling Xian continued, "As someone of a younger generation, I'll show you some respect. I'll only fight you with one arm. If you are still afraid, perhaps I'll hide both?"
He put his second arm behind his back as he spoke. The Spirit was now near eruption. There was nothing he wanted more than charging at this disrespectful bastard.
The Spirit ruled all within the Hidden Territory, every branch, every flower, every creature and every speck of dust. Even the ruling beasts of the Territory dared not challenge him.
Fight me with one arm? With no arm?
The Spirit almost spat blood in a fit of rage. Inside, he was suppressing the volcanic eruption with all his might. Do you dare tell your Keeper to stay out of this one?
The complexion of the middle-aged man turned a dark shade of purple before suddenly upgrading to a dark maroon, followed by the familiar shade of ghostly pale. He was still hesitant to strike the first flow.
His fear was legit. The Keeper of the Land and Sea was no someone he dared challenge. She could seal his fate with a flick of her finger. And she was on Ling Xian's side.
Fighting his inner demons, the Spirit finally made his heart wrenching choice and sighed, "You win. Tell me, what kind of compensation would you like?"
"We could've gotten here so much earlier, why humiliate yourself?" Ling Xian grinned.
Ling Xian did not feel an ounce of pity for the middle-aged man standing in front of him. His life inside the Hidden Territory did indeed give him much knowledge, courage and hope, but he did nearly die inside. The Spirit could have warned him, or at least not misled him. But he chose poorly, and clearly, the Spirit had intended for him to die in there.
How could Ling Xian let of the hook someone who wanted him harmed?
Furthermore, the Keeper of Land and Sea had shown him favor. Regardless of what he did to the Spirit, there would be no consequences.
"Ah……" the Spirit appeared as though he had aged ten years in the blink of an eye. He whispered, in the utmost tone of defeat, "You can stop with the insults. What do you want, just say it. If I have it, I'll give it to you."
Ling Xing pondered for a moment. The Keeper of Land and Sea shows me favor, he reminded himself. With this newfound courage, he uttered, "The Essence of the Hidden Territory."
The middle-aged man's complexion turned shadowy. Without a single moment of hesitation he barked, "Impossible! Absolutely and unequivocally NO!"
Of course he wouldn't. The Essence is the heart and soul of the Hidden Territory. It pilots the rotation of the entire Territory. The Essence was also the secret to his personal strength. Without it, or losing a part of it, the Hidden Territory would shrink and he would weaken and eventually waste away.
The Essence powered his life. Who would give away his own life?
But for a cultivator, the Essence of the Hidden Territory is the most natural, most powerful and a side effect-free source for growth and healing, a dream to countless cultivators.
Ling Xian decided he would make this bold request. According to his calculations, incorporating the powers of the Essence would propel him to a new level of Alchemy.
"This is not a negotiation. I only ask for 10% of the Essence. After you hand me the 10%, I'll leave you be as if we've never met." Ling Xian looked at the middle-aged man hopefully, then added with a cold grin, "But if you don't give it to me, I'll put my hands behind my back, call the Keeper of the Land and Sea back here and be the judge of our duel."
Ling Xian emphasized the words "Keeper of the Land and Sea" to remind the Spirit whom he was actually dueling with. He believed this name would certainly keep the Spirit at bay.
Just as he had imagined, upon hearing the name, the Spirit involuntarily let out a cold shudder. In moment, the Spirit was cursing Ling Xian underneath his breath, "Damn you, if you dare, keep her out of this, and watch me kill you like I kill a fly."
Of course, the Spirit wouldn't dare utter these words out loud.
"What do you think? Hand over the Essence of the Hidden Territory or duel to the death?" Ling Xian frowned, waving his hands impatiently. "Only 10%, not a huge loss for you, you are the ruler of a Hidden Territory, how can you be so stingy?"
The middle-aged man wanted to cry out but no tears came. 10% of his Essence, 10% of his Territory and 10% of his powers! The amount of Essence Ling Xian was demanding would take a few centuries to recuperate. Anyone would be stingy!
But it didn't matter. It had become clear to the Spirit that if he didn't hand over what Ling Xian was demanding, he may as well be dead.
Finally, he had to make that painful decision - 10% of his Essence in exchange for his life. With a long face, the Spirit handed Ling Xian what he sought and said, reluctantly, "Here, take it, let this be the end of it. We don't owe each other anything."
He twirled his large open sleeve and summoned, a dusty, airy matter appeared in midair. The matter exuded a refreshing Reiki that immediately made Ling Xian feel cleansed and alive.
"Mark my words, what happened here today stays here. I will not both you again." Ling Xian was overjoyed, beaming at the sight of the dusty matter.
This was the Essence of the Hidden Territory, the most sought after treasure by countless cultivators throughout history, one that helps turn the cultivator who consumes it into a legend.
"That would suffice." The Spirit let out a long, deep sigh of relief.
"Then I bid you goodbye." Ling Xing let out a satisfied smile, waved his hand and captured the Essence. As he departed, Ling Xing turned to the somber looking Spirit and said mockingly, "Oh yes, if you wish to challenge me again in the future, make sure you stock up on the leftover Essence."
The Spirit was livid, but couldn't act on his anger. Instead, he gestured at Ling Xian rudely and barked, "Get out of here, quickly, your face irks me."
"Ha ha, goodbye then" Ling Xian laughed as he walked out of the Territory and straight into the Painting of Nine Immortals.
The Spirit watched Ling Xian's departure in awe. He simply couldn't grasp what was happening. He was the Ruler of the Hidden Territory, and this kid was able to come and go as he pleased. What a freak of nature?!
"This kid has got some skills. First he offended every single beast in the realm, then forced me to part with my Essence. The middle-aged man sighed softly. His heart, as heavy as a rock moments ago, finally settled back into his chest. He couldn't help but mutter to himself, "That little brat is finally gone. My good days are finally back."