"Second senior brother has this weird habit of only coming out to look at his plants at night. Don’t be scared when you see him. That man is always paranoid. He keeps thinking someone is trying to sneak in and steal his plants."
The man continued mumbling even as he flew with Su Ming into the ninth summit and stood on the mountainside.
Su Ming could no longer tell just how he was feeling right now. He was standing on a flight of stairs, and when he looked down, he saw a battered down place that might have been clean and tidy in the past. That battered image was especially highlighted by the plants that could survive in snow, which filled the entire place. Once he remembered what the man had said about their second senior brother, he let out a wry laugh.
The man continued mumbling even as he was walking up the stairs. As he was talking, Su Ming’s heart suddenly lurched in his chest. He lifted his head swiftly and saw a man in white, standing in the snow, not too far away. He had no idea when that man had appeared, but he was standing there looking at him and the man with a smile.
"Hu Zi, this must be our youngest junior brother."
That man seemed to also be in his thirties, and his appearance gave him a kindly and refined air. His white clothing gave him a gentle demeanor that made him not seem cold and unapproachable.
"Second senior brother, morning." The man spoke with a relaxed manner, then pointed at Su Ming before he continued talking. "He’s our youngest junior brother. The old man brought him back. What’s his name again? Su..? That’s right, he’s Su."
Su Ming lifted his head to look at the sky. At that moment, the sky was already beginning to darken. It looked as if it was going to be dusk soon. However, light was reflected off the snow in these northern plains, causing the entire place to still look bright.
Nonetheless, this did not seem to be a time where anyone should be greeting anyone else with ‘Morning’.
"Aye, I woke up a bit earlier today." The gentle man yawned and smiled at Su Ming before giving him a nod. "I see, so your name is Su? That’s… not a bad name. Not bad, youngest junior brother. You have to believe in yourself. You have to believe that you can do anything you want!"
As the man in white spoke, he lifted his head and looked at the sky.
"I won’t be talking to you two anymore. I woke up far too early today and I need to go back and sleep. I have to keep watch tonight as well. Some of my plants were stolen yesterday."
The man in white turned around. He was about to leave when he suddenly stopped and turned his head back. He looked at Su Ming kindly.
"Youngest junior brother, the mountain is different from what Master told you, but there’s one thing that won’t change. Freezing Sky Clan’s ninth summit is your home!
"While you’re here, no one will dare harass you!"
The man in white smiled and left.
Su Ming was silent. He could not tell the man’s level of cultivation. In fact, in his eyes, that man was just like an ordinary person. He could not sense any pressure or Qi from him.
Yet his words stayed in Su Ming’s mind for a long time.
But it was a pity, because another voice came from Su Ming’s side and destroyed that feeling. The man called Hu Zi had a gloomy look on his face.
"Don’t trust him.
When I first came here, second senior brother told me the same thing. I was really touched, you know! But ya don’t understand, when I was beaten up by those people in Freezing Sky Clan and ran back to the mountain, second senior brother never helped me. Every single time I went to him, he would get angry and want to take revenge with me, but then once he cools down, he goes back to sleep…
"I once waited at his place for three months without leaving, and he actually managed to sleep through those three months!"
The man’s face was filled with hurt as he talked about his past.
"Didn’t he just tell ya to believe in yerself..? It’s precisely because he believed that he could do better, that the entire ninth summit turned into his farm."
Su Ming looked at the mountain, then at the man, then in the direction where the man in white had left, and instantly found himself speechless.
"Hey, this is my place. Your Grandpa Hu ain’t a turtle, and I don’t like plants either. I just like drinking. This is my cave abode. I don’t come out usually. I drink when I’m awake, and when I’m drunk, I sleep. When I wake up again, I drink, and when I’m drunk again, I sleep…"
The man pointed towards a direction in the distance, then picked up his gourd to drink another mouthful.
"The old man stays at the top of the mountain. Go see him. I don’t want to see ‘im. Every time I see ‘im, I can’t control my temper," the man mumbled and patted Su Ming’s shoulder.
"Youngest junior brother, good luck."
As he spoke, he turned around and started drinking while walking on the snow towards his cave abode.
Su Ming stood alone on the mountain and looked around himself. Wind blew at that moment, and it lifted up the snow before him to dance in the air. Su Ming shook his head. There were similarities but also differences between the Freezing Sky Clan right before him and the Freezing Sky Clan in his mind.
The similarity was Freezing Sky Clan itself, and the difference was the ninth summit.
He spent a moment to think while remaining on his spot then lifted his head to look at the peak of the mountain. From there, he could see a magnificent building that gave people a grand impression even if they were looking from the distance.
Su Ming walked up the stairs covered by plants that could survive in winter and stepped on the snow as he moved towards the top of the mountain. Since he was already here, then he would not turn back. Since he had already chosen Tian Xie Zi as his Master, then unless he absolutely had to, Su Ming would not choose another Master.
As he continued upwards, the mountain breeze became stronger. The moaning wind and tumbling snow around him blended together with the quiet mountain and turned into an indescribable feeling within him that made his heart gradually calm down.
‘This is such a tall mountain… One of the nine summits of Freezing Sky Clan… It might be the quietest mountain compared to the other summits here as well.’
Su Ming did not move quickly. As the sky gradually darkened and dusk arrived, he finally reached the top of the mountain. When he finished climbing the stairs, the magnificent building he’d seen in the distance stood before him.
However, now that he was closer, this building, which looked like an audience hall and did indeed let out a grand presence, was in such a state of disrepair that it seemed to have a dreary air around it.
There were nine pillars around the audience hall. They surrounded the hall and enveloped it with a thin sheen of light. Others could only look at it and not enter.
"It’s sealed..?" Su Ming was stunned.
"The ninth summit of Freezing Sky Clan is composed of one main mountain, six subordinate mountains, and seven audience halls!" a familiar old voice said from behind Su Ming. He turned around and saw an old man walking out from behind the audience hall.
The old man wore a white robe and had a mysterious smile on his lips, which gave him the presence of an enigmatic sage.
"The seven halls each have their own function. If there’s someone attending to them, then they could activate the mountain’s might. All those who can occupy this particular hall will instantly become one of the nine Lords of Freezing Sky Clan’s Great Frozen Plains.
"The duties of the school in Freezing Sky Clan are secondary. The left, right, and head preceptors, the sect protectors, and even the Clan Elders, are just mere titles.
"The people taking up these positions will change, but the only ones that will not change and will remain unchanging until the people with the titles die are the nine Lords of the Great Frozen Plains, which are the nine Lords of the nine mountains on this snow plains.
"The nine Lords of the Great Plains and the nine Lords of Heaven Gate… these 18 people are the strongest people in all of Freezing Sky Clan, besides some the old folks here, anyway.
"It’s a pity that there are only eight Lords in Heaven Gate and seven Lords in the Great Frozen Plains. The halls in the first and ninth summits aren’t taken by anyone."
Su Ming remained silent and did not speak.
Tian Xie Zi walked to him slowly and looked at Su Ming with his back to the sealed hall when he was a few dozen feet away from Su Ming.
"My disciple, how do you feel after you’ve come here?" Tian Xie Zi asked, smiling.
"Like I’ve been lied to," Su Ming stated bluntly.
There was not a hint of awkwardness on Tian Xie Zi’s face. He winked at Su Ming and smiled faintly without saying a word.
Su Ming forced down the anger in his heart and asked calmly. "I will not mind that you lied to me about me being your only disciple that day, but are the Berserker Vessels, skills, ancient scrolls and the others true?"
"Of course they’re true. Look, I told you that day that I live on a mountain. I didn’t lie to you about that now, did I? If you want to see it, you can do it anytime you want. But you just came today, so how about I call your second senior brother and third senior brother to drink together?"
Su Ming looked at Tian Xie Zi and hissed out, "Don’t need. With your permission, I’d like to see it now."
"Ah… alright then."
Tian Xie Zi hesitated for a moment before he lifted his right hand at the air. Immediately, the mountain trembled and a stone door rose up from the ground beside him.
"This is where I store all my treasure. The first layer is where I keep the Berserker Vessels, the second layer has the skills, and the third layer has the ancient scrolls. If you want to see them, then I’ll wait for you here."
Tian Xie Zi let out a fake cough.
"Ah, that’s right. You can take one thing away from each layer out of the things that catch your fancy in there. Treat them as my gift for you for becoming my disciple."
Tian Xie Zi waved his hand, and the stone door immediately started opening with loud rumbling sounds.
Purple light shone through the door, making it seem as if there were truly valuable treasures in there.
"Don’t be greedy. You can only take one thing away from each layer."
Tian Xie Zi still held himself in the manner of a sagely veteran as he smiled and spoke to Su Ming. It seemed like he was very confident in his treasures.
When he saw Tian Xie Zi behaving this way, Su Ming started believing him somewhat but remained largely skeptical. He walked closer to the stone door and went inside.
He felt his vision blur in the same manner as when he was Relocated. Rumbling choed in his ears. After a moment, that sound disappeared, and his vision gradually cleared up to show a gigantic cave before him.
There were numerous small holes around the cave. There was an enchanted Vessel in each of the small holes. Each of them looked different from the others and were so numerous that they numbered into the hundreds.
Yet when Su Ming took a closer look, an odd expression gradually appeared on his face.
"These are his Berserker Vessels..?"
Su Ming felt fortunate that he had prepared himself mentally beforehand. At that moment, when he saw these Berserker Vessels, his lips twisted into a bitter smile.