"This woman is no milk-shop."
Ling Xian stared at the spot where Gong Suo Xin had just unexpectedly vanished. Ling Xian had a strong sense for when people appear or disappear in his presence. He was thus shocked at how she was able to so easily evade his senses.
The depth of Gong Suo Xin's powers was anyone's guess.
Shaking all thoughts of her out of his mind and with a swing of his sleeve, Ling Xian summoned his three newest riches into his bag. Then he paused suddenly, turning his gaze towards the door, he uttered coldly, "You've been hiding behind there for some time. Do you not wish to present yourself?"
"Heaven's favorite, keen senses indeed."
A cracked laughter sounded behind the door as an old man dressed in black emerged from it. With one commanding leap forward, he landed directly in front of Ling Xian.
Shrinking of the Earth!
Ling Xian's pupils dilated as he recognized this world-renowned technique. This was no ordinary visitor.
"You are the first tenth realm cultivator to recognize this technique. You do your stories justices." The elderly man said with a nod and smile of approval.
"I deserve no flattery." Ling Xian could not fully grasp the extent and depth of the elderly man's skills. For now, he remained respectful, mixed in with a little bit of fear. He would not have recognized this technique had it not been for the Untainted.
Half an hour ago, the Untainted spoke to him through a distant voice and warned him of the arrival of a cultivator of the completion period. Upon seeing that Ling Xian had company, the visitor remained behind doors.
"Yes you do, Ling Xian, you are talented, courageous, witty, and decisive. I saw what happened just now. You remained clear headed in the company of such a stunner, what a rare and exceptional quality that is." The elderly man eyes Ling Xian with growing affection.
This was the Elder from the House of Wan Jian who had bestowed the title of Heaven's Favorite upon Ling Xian. After the battle ended, he first went to finish the business he had come to the City of Qing to complete, then returned to find Ling Xian.
Having his presence sensed by Ling Xian was slightly awkward, but it warmed to Ling Xian all the more.
"I dare guess that you did not remain hidden for half an hour simply to flatter me." Ling Xian smiled respectful, not letting his guards down. He did not sense any killer instincts from the elderly man, but one could never be too careful.
Perhaps he came for the Eyes of Execution?
Sensing that Ling Xian was alarmed by his presence, the man revealed a friendly grin and said, "Do not fright, I come in peace. If I truly want to hurt you, you stand no chance."
Ling Xian nodded softly, accepting his words as true, but did not lower his guard. He asked, "Then what is the purpose of your visit?"
"To invite you to join my House, the House of Wan Jian." The elderly man smiled.
"Join the House of Wan Jian?" Ling Xian startled, then asked a question that almost made the elderly man vomit blood.
"My apologies, I have never heard of the House of Wan Jian."
Never heard of it?
The elderly man was at a loss for words. One of the nine Houses of the Yun Province, the House of Wan Jian, how could he have never heard of it?
"Well, that is quite alright, I shall give you a brief introduction." The Elder let out an awkward expression that half resembled a smile. "There are ten Dynasties and nine Houses in the Yun Province, totaling 19 supernatural entities. The Qin Dynasty is one of them, and the House of Wan Jian is another. The House originated 8,652 years ago, an ancient establishment with an incredible history and home to countless heroes of their generations. Our accomplishments mirror those of the Immortals. What do you think?"
As he finished, the elderly man eyed Ling Xian hopefully, searching for a reaction.
However, he would be disappointed. Ling Xian's expression remained unmoved. This had finally angered the visitor as he shouted, "Are you not astounded? The House of Wan Jian! One of the nine Houses of the Yun Province! You, you fool!"
"Yes, you are right, the renowned House of Wan Jian, one of the keepers of the Yun Province. How does that concern me?" Ling Xian asked the key question.
"Of course it concerns you. You can become one of us. I promise the moment you enter our gate you will become a true disciple of our House. If you continue to display your loyalty to the House, in due time, you will become a candidate for the next House Leader."
"But my loyalty has already been placed elsewhere," Ling Xian said apologetically.
"What?" The elderly man's heart sank, "Which House?"
"Not a House, I have one Master." Ling Xian shook his head.
The Elder beamed then continued his pursuit, "How can that give you what the House of Wan Jian can give you? Don't worry, if you disown him as your Master and come with me, I assure you limitless success on your journey of cultivation!"
Ling Xian frowned angrily. [Liao Cang Xiong is incomparable to your House? It's the other way around. Who dare to compare themselves to an Immortal?]
Ling Xian had not had a long relationship with Liao Cang Xiong, but they had a deep connection that cannot be broken. For Liao Cang Xiong, Ling Xian had once refused the Untainted. He would never abandon him for the House of Wan Jian.
"My apologies, my Master is like my Father, I will never sever this tie," Ling Xian declared.
The Elder opened his eyes wide in shock. He couldn't fathom how this young man could give up such an opportunity to join the House of Wan Jian for one man.
Does he even know what he is passing over? His opportunities will be endless. He will have the best teachers and vast resources. Does he not know that?
The Elder was near his breaking point. He had come full of confidence. He had expected that the name of the House in itself was reason enough. He had expected Ling Xian to have packed and ready to go by now.
But everything that had happened since he entered this room had been a miscalculation.
Why can't this young man walk the road he had paved for him?
The Elder was near tears, regaining his composure only after a long moment of pause. He could only ask meekly, "Ling Xian, you are certain you will not be coming with me?"
"Yes. If there is nothing else, you may leave," Ling Xian shook his head and gave his answer.
He had no interest in the House of Wan Jian. He didn't need anything the Elder had been so keen on offering. The Elder's request that he sever his ties with Liao Cang Xiong was reason enough to reject him.
The elderly man darkened his gaze. A respected cultivator of his caliber had never been treated so loosely.
He had come with a genuine smile. He had hoped Ling Xian would understand his plight. But Ling Xian's reaction had deeply disappointed him. However, this disappointment was mixed with just a touch of new-gained respect for the stubborn youth.
Ling Xian refused to dishonor the holy tie between Master and Pupil. This on its own was enough to convince the Elder that Ling Xian had the qualities he was seeking in a pupil.
The elderly man coughed, then lit up his face again with a beaming smile. "Ling Xian, look at me. I am here, with all sincerity, asking that you come with me and join my House. Perhaps you can reconsider my offer?"
Ling Xian frowned again, his anger was brewing faster. But just as he opened his lips to refuse him one last time, a voice penetrated deeply in his mind spoke.
Each word was preceded with a pause, as if the person who spoke the words barely had any life left in them to speak.
A cold vibration traveled throughout his body in a flash. Ling Xian's face beamed as he shouted, [Almighty Master! You are awake?]
No answer came. Ling Xian persisted a few more times, but Liao Cang Xiong did not answer him. Finally, the soft voice of the Untainted sounded in his ears, [Stop shouting, I woke him up briefly to ensure you say yes to this offer.]
Ling Xian was unhappy. He questioned her irritably, [Why? What does that House have that I must?]
[It's not that. But you need to understand one thing. Your Master is currently trapped inside the Painting of the Nine Immortals. He can't help you. You need a powerful entity behind you,] The Untainted explained.
[One's most powerful entity is oneself. In the Taoism Community, one can never rely on an external entity,] Ling Xian spoke from his heart. The last century had taught him that much.
[But before you are fully mature and independent, you'll need one such entity. You are a gifted cultivator. You have and will continue to attract envy. I can tell this traveler is genuine in his request. This is an ideal opportunity for you,] the Untainted continued, [This is what Liao Cang Xiong wants for you, do you dare disobey?]
Ling Xian let out a bitter sigh, [Fine, I'll agree to it.]
[Good, one day in the future, you will be grateful for your decision today.]
The Untainted went silent.
Ling Xian could not disobey the will of his Master. After a moment of pondering, he said, "You must allow me to remain true to my Master. Also, I will not recognize another master from the House of Wan Jian. Does that work for you?"
"Well…" The elderly man hesitated. The first condition can be easily accommodated, but it would be impossible for the Elders of the House not to want him. Perhaps the competition could even lead to violence.
"If you refuse either one of my conditions, we do not have a deal." Ling Xian could see his desperation. He believed wholeheartedly that the man would agree to both.
Just as Ling Xian predicted, the old man swallowed his rage and said, "Fine, fine, I agree."
"You have my gratitude." Ling Xian beamed.
"Ah…" The elderly man let out a long sigh. Ling Xian's request was out of order. But looking at it from another angle, Ling Xian would become a pupil of the House of Wan Jian regardless if he had a House Master. This was truly not a terribly big deal.
The moment this thought flashed across mind, the Elder's expression instantly softened. He smiled. "Regardless, I just want a yes from you. Go pack, we shall depart at once."
Ling Xian contemplated a moment, then said, "I have no parents here, but I do have a Clan, and people that are like my family. I wish to stay behind for one more day and properly bid them goodbye."
"That is a must. Then go, I will rest here for the time being." The elderly man waved his hand, then walked over to a chair, sat down in it, and closed his eyes.
Ling Xian bowed with his hands, then turned around and walked towards Ling Tian Qing's quarter.
The first order of business was naturally to bid adieu to the Leader of the Ling Clan.