A magical aura flared up and morphed into countless lightning clouds. Then the clouds simultaneously burst and released millions of raindrops towards the earth. Each drop was powerful enough to obliterate rocks, pierce through gold and melt earthly minerals.
Raindrops poured down towards the earth, followed closely by the terrifying sight of a giant handprint, their incredulous power shook the heavens and silenced the oceans.
Ling Xian froze.
One spell unleashed two different attacks, deadly raindrops preceding giant crushing hand, doubling its power and intended devastation.
Ling Xian naturally proceeded with caution. He expanded his giant wings which created a violent dust storm that swallowed every last drop of rain. Then, he summoned his most powerful incantation and unleashed the Heaven Shadowing Palm Technique!
The earth trembled beneath their feet.
An enormous hand emerged from behind Ling Xian, the Qi of Yin and Yang intertwining in the center. The entire hand materialized fully, as if pushing a mountain, it advanced.
Ling Xian commanded. Suddenly, the moon hid in terror, the colors of the world faded into varying shades of gray.
"Incredible!" Ye Xiao Tian was taken aback by the power he was witnessing. There was nothing he could do but confront the terrifying hand head on.
Two giant hands collided, emitting the brightest, most blinding light the earth had ever seen.
Unfortunately, one had the power to move heaven and earth while the other was a mere spell without lasting resilience. Before the count of three, the Palm of the Shattering Cloud had given in under the forces of the Heaven Shadowing Palm Technique.
The confrontation lasted this long because of the gap between Ling Xian and Ye Xiao Tian. Ling Xian was only a cultivator of the tenth realm. If he had been of the foundational level, perhaps the Palm of the Shattering Cloud would have vanished instantly on impact.
The power of the Heaven Shadowing Palm Technique was truly unparalleled.
"Stomp, stomp, stomp…"
Ye Xiao Tian took three steps backward as his Palm of the Shattering Cloud disappeared into the darkness. He sighed. "How incredible, power of this magnitude even when unleashed by someone of the tenth realm."
"Master Ye, do you wish to continue?" Ling Xian landed softly back on the ground. He blinked, and the Winged Blitz vanished.
"No need. The battle has been decided. I lost." Ye Xiao Tian sighed again. "A foundational-level cultivator, Master of the City of Qing, loses a duel to someone of the meditational level. How embarrassing!"
Ling Xian smiled. "Master of the City, my apologies, this title you cannot have."
"I didn't come for the title. I only wanted a proper dual. Too bad, you refused to reveal the Sword of Extinction." Ye Xiao Tian shook his head in disappointment.
"Not that I didn't want to. I only didn't want to harm you," Ling Xian responded.
"This again." Ye Xiao Tian sneered bitterly. "It's fine. I lost either way. The defeat is mine."
Ling Xian observed him. Ye Xiao Tian was truly disappointment in himself. Ling Xian hurried to say, "We are done now. There's nothing more to say. If the Master of the City has no other business here, I shall leave you then."
As Ling Xian turned to leave, Master Ye stopped him.
"Wait a minute."
A hint of awkwardness flashed across Master Ye's face. He muttered, "Well, I do have one favor to ask you."
"A favor to ask of me?" Ling Xian hesitated then he broke into a smile, "You had a favor to ask, so you challenged me to a dual? Master Ye, you are indeed an odd character."
The awkward expression deepened. Ye Xiao Tian massaged his hands together and uttered, rather embarrassingly, "Well… hands are itchy, itchy hands."
"Forget it. I won't pursue it. But whatever you were about to ask, I think it's best that you don't." Ling Xian waved his hands and turned around to ignore him.
Ling Xian is not unkind, but he isn't in the business of wish granting. He and Master Ye rarely ever crossed paths. Not to mention the Master of the City had just challenged him to a dual, delaying his plans. Ling Xian was not in the best of moods.
Ye Xiao Tian shook his head. A moment later, he appeared in front of Ling Xian, blocking his path.
"Master Ye, I suggest that you let me through. Don't think I won't kill you." Ling Xian frowned impatiently. A hint of animosity appeared in his eyes.
Detecting this animosity in his gaze, Ye Xiao Tian felt a shiver travel down his spine. He actually felt fear. However, he calmed himself and let out a smile. "Please listen to me."
"Speak," Ling Xian shouted impatiently.
"My daughter Ye You Lan was hoping to travel to the House of Wan Jian next year for the disciple's admissions exam. But the exam is quite difficult, so I implore that you look out for her." Ye Xiao Tian lowered his head. He seemed as genuine as they come.
He had only just learned from Ling Tian Qing that Ling Xian was to become a disciple at the House of Wan Jian. Coincidentally, his daughter had also intended to try her luck there. So aside from wanting a good battle with Ling Xian, he also wanted some help from him.
If Ling Xian said the word, even if Ye You Lan failed the exam, she would be admitted into the House. Such was the power of a true disciple.
"Looks like you already know of my plans." Ling Xian beamed. "But why should I help you?"
"Well…" Ye Xiao Tian lowered his head. After a moment of visible turmoil, he looked up, held out his prized halberd and said, "I obtain this treasure with all my wealth. It is the most valuable item I owe. If you agree to help me, it is yours."
Ling Xian was a touch shocked by this proposal. He could have never imagined how far Ye Xiao Tian was willing to go to secure a future for his daughter. The halberd was fine, but not something Ling Xian cared for. So he shook his head and said, "No need, I can't help you. Master Ye should seek other sources."
Ye Xiao Tian gritted his teeth. He couldn't give up like this. "Ling Xian, let's say I'm begging you. This is something you could easily do. But for my daughter, this could change her life. Please, we're both citizens of the City, help me."
Ling Xian recalled the last and only encounter he had with the young girl. He pondered. After a long pause, he said, "Do one thing for me, and I'll do this for you."
"Do tell." Ye Xiao Tian was elated.
"I look after your daughter. You look after the Ling Clan, especially a youth named Ling Hu," Ling Xian uttered his demand. With his departure, there would be only one cultivator of the foundational level remaining within the Ling Clan, the dominant Clan inside the City of Qing. Even though Ling Xian would soon become a disciple of the House of Wan Jian, the distance would prevent Ling Xian from interfering with affairs back home.
However, Ye Xiao Tian was the Master of the City and will be for the foreseeable future. Under his protection, the Ling Clan would be safe from competing forces.
"Not a problem." Ye Xiao Tian didn't hesitate. He laughed out loud. "I, Ye Xiao Tian, promise that as long as I am in charge here, no harm will come to the Ling Clan, the same goes for Ling Hu."
"Good. We agreed then. When your daughter comes for her exam, I will do my best to ensure her admittance into the House of Wan Jian." Ling Xian nodded. Even though he had yet to be admitted, he knew this was well within his power.
Getting Ye You Lan admitted into the House of Wan Jian was an easy feat.
"Ling Xian, I thank you." Ye Xiao Tian bowed deeply, ecstatic.
"Don't thank me. This is a business arrangement only. Remember what you promised me. Look after my family." As Ling Xian spoke, he was already walking away.
He had one last person to visit.
Lin Qing Yi.
The moment of their first encounter flashed across his mind, followed by everything that happened in the cave inside the Hidden Territory. As Ling Xian reminisced, a subconscious smile lit up his face.
Inside the dark, cold cave, a woman of incomparable beauty and grace held a blade against her neck. This image of her had been deeply ingrained inside Ling Xian's memory.
Soon enough, Ling Xian arrived at the resident quarters of the Lins but was immediately informed of her departure from the City of Qing six months ago. No one knew where she went.
"Have I come too late?"
Under the bright evening moon, Ling Xian found himself overcome by sadness and sorrow.
"Seems like the last person you wished to visit was the most important to you." The Elder of the House of Wan Jian spoke out of nowhere.
Ling Xian frowned, "You've been following me?"
Seeing that Ling Xian was displeased, the Elder hastily explained, "This is not my fault. You are about to join the House of Wan Jian. I need to know who you come into contact with. If you had been a spy, my House would be at risk."
Ling Xian understood this was necessarily on the part of the Elder and could not blame him. However, he did not like the feeling of being watched. He said, "I am not hiding anything. You can investigate all you want. But, do not harm my family."
"You shouldn't worry. If you are not a spy, I guarantee the House of Wan Jian will do everything to make you a legend, unforgotten by history. The Elder brushed his beard. Recalling that Ling Xian had only just defeated yet another foundational-level cultivator, the Elder couldn't conceal his satisfaction.
Ling Xian had already become a legend after defeating two foundational-level cultivators. After the third, he would be immortalized.
"OK, there's nothing left to do here, I am ready to depart." Ling Xian looked around at the empty streets under the gorgeous moonlight. He had lived here for 15 years. The thought of leaving it brought tears to his eyes.
However, he understood the City of Qing could no longer contain his giant wings. He couldn't clip these wings and stay here forever. He needed to stretch them and live a remarkable life.
His dream was to conquer the nine Heavens!
He would end the evil and become the legend of generations.
He would rise to become an immortal and look down upon the mortal world.
He would secure his place in the books of history and let his stories live on for millennia.
Such were his dreams. To achieve them, he had to leave his home and march onto a much grander stage.
A grand stage for heroes from all corners of the universe to battle out their places in Heaven amidst the flying sparks of magic.
Everything from earth's riches to heaven's treasures was out there, far away but all within his grasp, if he wanted it enough.
The thought of these made Ling Xian's blood boil.
The Elder observed him approvingly. He saw sparks ignite and flames explode deep inside the youth. He nodded appreciatively and said, "Good, you have godly ambitions and promising skills. You truly deserve the title of Heaven's Favorite. I cannot wait to see where you will go from here and where you'll end up."
"Where I'll end up…" Ling Xian uttered the words softly, gazing into the distance.
"I am known as Ling Xian, I will become Ling Xian."
The Elder was fixated.
"HA HA HA…" Ling Xian lifted his head back and laughed into the night. He threw one last backward glance at the peaceful City then walked away without another moment of hesitation.
Farewell, City of Qing.
The fish had jumped out of the sea and took its first breath.
The bird had expanded wings and lifted off for its virgin voyage.
Such was the first step on his journey to become ruler of the immortal world.