Su Ming nodded his head.
His third senior brother’s spirits were immediately lifted and he picked up the gourd from the ground before lifting his head to look at the sky. As he mumbled some words that Su Ming could not hear, he lifted his hand and made a few signs with his hand as if he was scheming something.
After a moment, a silly grin appeared on his face.
"That’s great. You’re real lucky. We can see our eldest senior brother today. Come, follow me closely."
As third senior brother spoke, he charged into the distance. Su Ming did not say anything but simply followed behind him, looking at his third senior brother’s back. He gradually found himself unable to understand this person.
Su Ming ran behind Hu Zi through the mountains, and before long, as the sun started rising in the sky, they saw a rather broken mountain rock. He could see a low cave over there, and most of the entrance was blocked by a big rock, causing a large amount of sunlight to be blocked off the cave even if it was already daylight.
Su Ming hesitated for a moment before he asked, "Eldest senior brother isolated himself here?"
"There’s no way our eldest senior brother would enjoy his life this way. This is your senior brother Hu’s cave abode. So? It looks grand, right? Wait here, I’ll get me some wine."
While speaking, he bowed his top half and entered through the low cave entrance. Su Ming stood stunned outside for a moment, beginning to feel doubtful about his previous speculation.
Very soon, his third senior brother walked out. Some wine spilled out from the wine pot in his hands. It was clear that he had just refilled it, and there was an excited look on his face as he held the giant gourd in his hands.
"Let’s go. We have to hurry, or else it’ll be too late."
As he spoke, third senior brother dashed forward. Su Ming hesitated for a moment before following behind him. The both of them ran to the bottom of the mountain.
After about the time it takes to burn an incense stick to burn, Hu Zi brought Su Ming to the bottom of the mountain. With a few twists and turns, they moved to a crack in the mountain. The moment they stepped into the crack, Su Ming immediately sensed a chilling air blow against his face.
He looked at his third senior brother’s actions. It was clear that he was incredibly familiar with this place. They walked for half a day in that crack and gradually moved deeper underground. During the entire process, there were times where they seemed to have reached the end because Su Ming could no longer see any road leading forward, but the moment Hu Zi took another turn, a new path would appear before them.
They took many turns in the ice layer, and when Su Ming started feeling dizzy, his third senior brother came to a halt before him and brought him to an ice basin that was moderate in size.
When he looked over, the basin seemed like a gigantic hole lying before him. It was dark inside it, and freezing air spread out from within. There were also numerous icicles hanging from the top of the basin that exuded a biting cold presence.
"We’re here. Our eldest senior brother is down there, but it’s too deep, so we can’t go in. We can only look from here."
Third senior brother turned around and looked at Su Ming before pointing towards the basin before them.
Su Ming took a few steps forward and looked down the basin. He could not see the end with his current level of cultivation and sight.
His third senior brother placed the gourd in his hand on the ground and stood beside him. He lifted his right hand and started counting on his fingers, looking as if he was counting time.
"There’s still the time of half an incense stick left. Youngest junior brother, you’ll have to wait a bit…"
Yet before he finished speaking, a low roar suddenly came from within the basin. That roar was so loud that the ice around the basin started trembling viciously.
Su Ming’s expression changed. He could clearly feel a strong wave of heat that did not belong to the ice suddenly erupting forth. He instantly took a few steps back. The heat crashed into the two like an explosion, and a wave of hot air surged forth explosively from underneath the basin.
That wave of hot air gave people a sense of scorching heat that would even burn their bodies. Yet strangely, the basin and the ice around it was only melting slowly under that wave of heat. When this sight that obviously defied logic appeared before Su Ming, he felt shaken, and he took a deep breath.
"Darn it! Our eldest senior brother’s exhalation was brought forward! Eldest senior brother, Hu Zi is here, I even brought our youngest junior brother, he was just taken in by the old man! On behalf of our youngest junior brother, how about you help me warm up my wine?
"Let me warn you, eldest senior brother, if you break my wine gourd again and embarrass me before our youngest junior brother, then I’ll never come see you again."
While he spoke, third senior brother quickly threw the wine gourd into the basin. The wine gourd did not fall but instead floated in midair until the heat that erupted from within the basin rushed out and crashed into it.
However, cracking sounds rang out in the air. Cracks immediately appeared on the wine gourd. Some of the wine even spilled from them and fell into the basin.
"Eldest senior brother!"
Hu Zi let out a shrill cry and he was so shocked his expression even changed.
A cold harrumph came from within the basin, and a thin layer of ice immediately covered the cracks on the wine gourd, causing the wine that was spilling from the gourd to stop flowing out.
At the same time, a wave of heat spread out from within the unsealed gourd. A thick alcoholic fragrance filled the air in the area, causing the people who took a breath of the air to feel warm.
The surface of the gourd was covered by a layer of ice while the wine in the gourd boiled, and a large part of it turned into alcoholic steam.
"That’s enough, eldest senior brother! That’s enough!"
Hu Zi’s expression changed really quickly. Just a breath ago, he had a wretched look on his face, and now he was already smiling happily.
"Third… don’t do this again… Every single time you leave, I have to change the outline of the path outside, but you always manage to get in either way…"
The wine gourd covered in ice floated towards Hu Zi and landed before him. At the same time, a voice that carried a hint of resignation traveled out from within the basin.
That voice was very gentle, but the moment it landed in Su Ming’s ears, he first felt a chill run down his spine, and that chill soon turned into warmth that spread through his entire body.
"You’re the only one who can come up with the idea of using the Origin Breath I refined after much difficulty to warm your wine… Hah… just remember to deliver half of that pot to Master, or else I won’t warm your wine again!"
The resigned tone in that voice made Su Ming think that his third senior brother had gone overboard.
"Eldest senior brother, don’t worry. I’ll definitely send half a pot to the old man. Haha!"
Hu Zi’s face was alit with excitement. He quickly picked up the wine gourd and took a sniff of the alcoholic fragrance coming from within. An intoxicated look appeared on his face.
"Fourth, you just came to the mountain. It’s a pity that I can’t come out of isolation just yet. I can only do so after a few years. How about this? I’ll give this to you. Use it to protect yourself."
The gentle voice traveled forth once again, and a blue piece of ice abruptly flew out of the basin. It charged towards Su Ming and floated before him.
The blue ball of fire sealed in the blue ice gave it a bewitching presence.
"Thank you, eldest senior brother."
Su Ming quickly wrapped his fist in his palm and bowed before he put away the blue piece of ice. Just by the look of it, he could tell that this was something extraordinary.
Hu Zi picked up his wine gourd and dragged Su Ming a few steps back before he shouted towards the basin, "Eldest senior brother, you should hurry back to your training. I already made calculations. You’ll be exhaling that Origin Breath of yours 43 days later. When that time comes, I’ll come find you again. We won’t bother you anymore. Eldest senior brother, good luck!"
The heat spreading from the basin clearly halted for a brief moment, and a resigned sigh reached them from within the basin.
"Don’t always work on getting drunk. Remember what the Master told you before. While getting drunk is the method you found to clear your mind, this is just a process. What’s important is the dream you have after you’re drunk…"
The gentle voice echoed in the air.
"I know, I know. We’re leaving now."
Hu Zi quickly left, but Su Ming’s footsteps faltered. He looked towards the hot air spreading out from within the basin.
"Eldest senior brother, what is the skill you’re practicing? Is it truly one of the skills taken from our Master’s second layer in the chamber? Did you see the Arts and abilities written on the jades?"
There was a short period of silence from within the basin before the gentle voice came once again.
"You can’t see what I see… because what I desire the most are skills."
His eldest senior brother’s voice vibrated in the air, just like how Su Ming’s heart was shaking at that moment. When he was eventually dragged out of his eldest senior brother’s isolation grounds by Hu Zi and arrived at the bottom of the ninth summit, he felt his mind going into such turmoil it felt as if there were waves crashing in his mind.
He did not know how he left the place. In the shaken state he was in, he parted ways with his third senior brother and returned to his cave abode. He sat down cross-legged on the platform and looked at the world in the distance. However, what he saw was no longer important. He could not calm down. Nothing he saw could calm him down.
‘Because my eldest senior brother desired skills, that’s why when he saw the jades in the second layer, they were real to him… He got the skill he wanted and isolated himself to train and make himself stronger.
‘And I wanted the map the most, that’s why the Berserker Vessels in the first layer, the skills in the second layer, and even the ancient scrolls in the third layer were fake. The map was the only thing I could see…
‘My eldest senior brother isolated himself to clear his mind and understand the meaning of Creation… perhaps the skill he obtained was just a part of it. To bring into being is the true meaning of Creation.
‘I wonder what my second senior brother obtained from Master’s chamber… He chose to plant those plants because if he planted them on his own, that’s also a form of bringing something into being… He’s bringing life into being and using this method to train his mind and to understand this…
‘As for my third senior brother, he enters sleep after he’s drunk. Getting drunk is the process, and he dreams when he falls asleep. That is a start of him training his mind… Dreaming can also mean creating dreams…’
Su Ming understood now.
He shuddered. At that moment, he saw the world lighting up in the distance. The sun was rising in the horizon. The sun was lighting up the land with an indescribable, shocking presence. The wind was traveling at a moderate speed and lifted Su Ming’s hair. The sunlight cast him under a few different shades of colors.
Su Ming slowly turned his head and looked towards the top of the mountain that was now illuminated by sunlight. He could vaguely see an old person standing there. That person was looking at the sun rising in the horizon as his clothes fluttered in the wind.
"Master…" Su Ming mumbled.
The words Tian Xie Zi had told him that day appeared in Su Ming’s mind once again, "If you accept me as your Master, then you’ll understand someday that Freezing Sky Clan is nothing!"
Su Ming closed his eyes and immersed himself in his own understanding of the words.
Time passed by slowly. One day, two days, three days…
As the sun rose and set, Su Ming sat on the platform and remained unmoving in the midst of the wind and snow.