A middle-aged man stood nearly eight feet tall, clad in an ordinary looking burlap robe of white, barefooted and with his hair hanging loosely, was seen walking slowly from the downstream of the river towards the floating restaurant with his hands behind his back. As though he was walking on flat ground, the moving water of Myriad Red River didn't hinder his movement. Wherever his feet passed, they would leave behind a three-inches deep footstep on the surface of the water. No matter how the river water rolled and flowed, the footstep kept its vivid shape and didn't disappear.
Wu Qi saw the footsteps on the water, making his flesh creep.
This was a strange sign unique to a cultivator who had stepped into Gold Core realm. After a cultivator had his Gold Core formed, he would become a Human Immortal, having one leg stepped out from the five elements and having left the realm of mortals. They were standing on the line between human and immortal. They were half human, half immortal. Thus they were given the title Human Immortal. For these Human Immortals of Golden Core, the conflict between the Dao of the Universe was very obvious, and the evidence of it was in all kinds of strange signs.
Someone would have their body carried with a peculiar fragrance, some would have their body enshrouded in colorful halo. This man clad in white robe had left behind footsteps on the surface of the water, which was also one of the strange signs.
Yet, this was merely the sign that one could witness with naked eyes. Through Wu Qi's divine sense, he saw a different sign. The man was walking toward him from a few miles away while his body was unleashing a shivering breeze that made one feel like winter was coming. That was actually a razor sharp sword spirit. Wherever he passed, it was as if the sword spirit would slice through the spatial barriers, which was the strange sign for a Golden Core Human Immortal at the spiritual level. Without sufficient cultivation and soul energy, it was impossible to sense the sword spirit emitting from his body.
Taking one step at a time on the Myriad Red River, Nie Baihong, the current Sect Leader of Heaven Breaking Sword Sect, walked up onto the deck of Celestial Tune Palace. Only when his bare foot touched the deck did the footsteps that stretched a few miles long on the river get dismissed one after another. When the footsteps faded away, all the fishes, prawns, turtles, red leaves and colorful flower petals around them were instantly shattered into pieces by an invisible sword spirit.
Over thirty men rushed out from the crowd standing on the deck, messily came in front of Nie Baihong and knelt down. They were kowtowing at Nie Baihong and greeted his arrival. Some of these young masters of the prestigious clan were addressing Nie Baihong as their Uncle-Master, some addressed him as Patriarch, and some even addressed him as Grand-Ancestor. In brief, the status of generation between them was in a muddle, making Wu Qi roll his eyes.
Taking the opportunity of this messy situation, a few personal guards of Taba Haofeng hastily picked up their master who had frozen into an ice cube, stealthily left the floating restaurant and returned to their own boat. Without the slightest hesitation, they drove the boat and left. Wu Qi noticed it, and was about to order his men to kill Taba Haofeng and his personal guards using crossbows. But before he could say anything, Nie Baihong suddenly gave him a glance. Wu Qi felt an intense coldness crawl all over his body, as if his body and soul had just been hit by a heavy sword. His mind became empty and only filled with an echoing buzz. It took a long while before he could regain his consciousness.
With just a brief glance, Wu Qi's viscera were severely wounded. It was like they had just been gently sliced by countless razor sharp blades. The surface of each was torn with tiny slits, and tiny drops of blood were oozing out from these slits. He felt a sweetness surge from his throat and to his mouth, as a mouthful of blood was being pushed up. Yet, Wu Qi took a deep breath and forcefully swallowed back this mouthful of blood.
The reverse blood would always hurt one's blood. It would be better if Wu Qi spat this mouthful of blood from his body, but he chose to swallow it by force. As a result, the innate energy in his body which had just recovered a little bit got messed up instantly, and caused an even serious internal wound to himself. In addition to that, the reverse blood had also caused all his viscera to tremble violently, which led to the slits on them became bigger.
In the end, Wu Qi couldn't control and hold down the wounds in his body. He spat three mouthfuls of blood in a row. The blood was bright red, and sending forth a pungent smell of blood. It was a sign that his life essence and source energy were both wounded as well, and it was a severe injury. Fortunately, as Wu Qi had a very strong and solid foundation, the blood and Qi essence stored in his body was many times more than any ordinary people. So, while for other people, such wound would cause them to lay on a sick bed for at least few months, he would just need a few days of rest.
With a cold and indifferent expression, Nie Baihong gazed at the blood Wu Qi spat on the deck and snorted lightly.
Those young masters of prestigious clans quickly rose to their feet, each holding their head high up proudly, standing in a neat line beside Nie Baihong according to their seniority in Heaven Breaking Sword Sect. Nie Baihong nodded his head and gazed at Lu Chengfeng from the corner of his eye, who was standing near the window of the banquet hall on the top floor. Slowly he raised his hand up and greeted toward Lu Chengfeng, "Sect Leader of Heaven Breaking Sword Sect, Nie Baihong, offers greetings, Duke Yan Le."
Lu Chengfeng leaped through the window and gracefully landed on the deck. He gave Wu Qi a look worriedly, before cupping his fist and bowing at Nie Baihong, "Chengfeng offers greetings, Sect Leader. Can Chengfeng knows what is the purpose of Sect Leader's presence?"
Nie Baihong gazed at Lu Chengfeng coolly, then said with an indifferent voice, "Just as what I've said just now. I'm here to accept Wu Qi as my apprentice."
He turned around and looked at Wu Qi, saying with a deep voice, "Out of all thirteen Immortal Sects of Great Yan Dynasty, the overall strength of Heaven Breaking Sword Sect ranks at the top, and I possess the cultivation of late Gold Core realm. I'm here specifically to accept you as my apprentice, which is a great fortune for you. Come forth quickly and kowtow before me, acknowledge me as your Master. I have no intention to stay long in this filthy place!"
Before Nie Baihong could finish his words, among a group of singers and dancers who stood beside him, a beautiful teenage girl, who looked in her fifteen was irritated by the cold breeze contained in the sword beam which Wu Qi unleashed just now. She felt an itchiness in her nose, couldn't control herself and let out a loud sneeze. The noise instantly darkened Nie Baihong's face. He suddenly turned his head and glared at the teenage girl. A loud slicing sound rang through the scene, as the body of the teenage girl was ripped apart from the center. Her flesh and blood burst and splashed in all directions, falling on and staining the bodies of surrounding people.
A dead silence reigned the deck. It was especially true for those girls who worked at the floating restaurant. They were covering their mouth tightly with their hands, and none of them dared to make any noise again. A few of them were actually good friends with the teenage girls. But although they were mournful and shocked by her misfortune, they were greatly frightened as well. They had no choice but to bite on their own palms, letting their tears roll off their faces silently.
As a matter of fact, every single young master here had the rights to kill them freely, anytime they wanted, let alone this Nie Baihong. He was a Sect Leader of an Immortal Sect, a man who sat aloft above every single person here. These young masters were merely his junior apprentices in the sect. The life of a mere dancer, how could that be a significant thing in a place like this?
Lu Chengfeng clenched his palms tightly into fists. He gave Nie Baihong a quick gaze. The corner of his eyelids was twitching as he slowly lowered his head. The dancer was standing not far away from him, and a large amount of her blood was splashed onto Lu Chengfeng's soft silk boots. The green boots were stained and soaked with the blood and turned into a weird color of dark green. Lu Chengfeng could feel the warm blood touching his feet, and it was losing its temperature slowly.
Wu Qi took a step forward, looking at the dead body of the teenage girl which had turned into two. He clenched his jaw, stared back at Nie Baihong and asked, "What sin had she committed?"
If was as if Nie Baihong had just heard the most unbelievable joke under the heaven, he felt surprised and puzzled, looking at Wu Qi and said, "Do I have to mention her sin before I kill her? She was being disrespectful when I was talking, and that is a sin that only death could atone. It is strange, why are you asking me such a question? When I want to kill a peasant, do I have to come out with any excuse?"
Wu Qi circulated the last bit of innate water energy in his water meridians, but a severe pain that came from his viscera instantly hit him and made him nearly faint. His internal organs were still bleeding, and by forcefully circulating his innate energy right now, it was no different than switching on a juice presser, as the pressure would force his internal organ to ooze out more blood. Darkness covered his eyes as his body swayed and nearly fell off to the ground.
A bright smile suddenly emerged on his deadly pale face. Wu Qi blinked, then rested his eyes on Nie Baihong with a warm and friendly expression.
In a humble reverence and great politeness, Wu Qi walked in front of Nie Baihong. He forced himself to pick up his spirit and kneel before the man, and gave him a few heavy kowtows. "Your apprentice offers greetings, Master. Your apprentice must have done a tremendous deed in the previous life, which leads to this great fortune of obtaining guidance from Master. Master, you're absolutely right, killing a peasant like this doesn't need any reason, she is nothing."
Wearing a respectful smile that carried an affectionate look, Wu Qi used a naive and pure look and stared at Nie Baihong, whose face gradually turned calm. Like the warm breeze in the Spring, he asked, "But there is one thing that puzzled me. Why did Master come so far here purposedly, just to accept me as your apprentice? I've long heard the awe-inspiring reputation of Heaven Breaking Sword Sect. Yet, even in my wildest dream, I dared not to hope that one day I would become an apprentice of my Master!"
The flattering speech made Nie Baihong feel extremely comfortable. The incident of killing a dancer was like a drop of water that brushed off the cold surface of a diamond, leaving no trace behind in his mind. He had his eyes rested on Wu Qi's face, which was now melted in a smile, and the eyes filled with admiration, respect, veneration. He nodded his head satisfyingly while saying, "Well, this indeed is your fortune. If not because Princess Zhang Le sent someone and begged me, I would have not made the exception and accepted you as my apprentice!"
Princess Zhang Le sent someone and begged Nie Baihong to accept Wu Qi as his apprentice?
Wu Qi's heart trembled. Now he owed another favor to Princess Zhang Le. However, although it was out of her good intention, he never thought the Master that Princess Zhang Le found for him was someone like Nie Baihong.
It was the first time they met, yet Nie Baihong had dealt him a head-on blow, nearly shattering his viscera. That was not the worst; it was obvious that he was siding with Taba Haofeng by creating an opportunity for them to escape. After that, just because of a petty matter, he killed an innocent teenage girl right in front of Wu Qi's face. Having no Master was much better than having a Master like this.
However, when faced with the shivering sword energies emanating from Nie Baihong's body, Wu Qi's smile became friendlier and cuter. He gave Nie Baihong another kowtow and said smilingly, "I see. So it is because of the kindness of Princess Zhang Le, I understand now. It is my great honor to have Master came here personally. Wu Qi would not be able to repay the great kindness of Master even after I am dead!"
The satisfaction in Nie Baihong's mind became stronger. Wu Qi's flattering speech made him felt comfortable from head to toe. Among all those young masters of prestigious clans, who would say something so nice like Wu Qi? A brief smile finally squeezed out from Nie Baihong's stiffened and stern face. Slowly, he took out a longsword from his storage ring and casually gave to Wu Qi.
"Fine, from today onwards, you'll be an apprentice of Heaven Breaking Sword Sect, one of the legacy apprentices of mine. In future, at the beginning of every month, your presence is required at Mount White Sun for a lecture. As for the rest of the time, you can do as you wish. This sword is now given to you, take good care of it and use it wisely."
Nie Baihong patted on Wu Qi's shoulder, then threw out a thin book the size of a palm, which seemed to only have seven to eight pages- 'Qi Circulating Technique of Five Elements'. After being done with that, he spun and left the scene, again striding on the surface of the river, leaving behind a long row of footsteps. Very soon, his image dissolved into the darkness in the far distance.
From afar, Nie Baihong's voice came. "The Qi Circulating Technique of Five Elements is the foundation of our sword technique. Put in a good effort in cultivating it and don't neglect it. If you teach it to any outsider without permission, I'll kill you without any question. As for those who take a peek at the secret technique of our Sect, his entire clan would be wiped out. Remember this well!"
Wu Qi picked up the thin booklet respectful, bowed deeply toward the direction where Nie Baihong went.
When he bowed and had his face towards the deck, Wu Qi's eyes suddenly turned bloodshot, and his face was filled with a severe look of ferociousness.
Yet, when he stood back up straight, his was again wearing the smile that looked like a spring breeze that caressed one's face.