Xiao Yifan noticed his son's bad look and asked carefully, "What's wrong?"
Xiao Chen recovered his sense and forced a smile. "Nothing." At this moment, he didn't know why he felt like he had lost his soul. This was not a coincidence but someone's arrangement.
"Master, let's go. Don't let the Immortal wait for too long."
Lil Ruo had packed their stuff. She would follow Xiao Chen as a maid. She would neither join the Three Pure Sect nor take the test.
Xiao Chen nodded and walked to her when Su Qing called him to stop. She sighed and took out something like a badge.
"I know I can't talk you out of this now. Be careful out there. If some senior made things difficult for you, just show him this thing."
Xiao Chen took over the badge and did not know what it was made of. Also, it was carved with a super complex pattern that he did not know of. He nodded and said, "Okay. Mother, trust me, I'll be fine."
Many elders in the Fly Cloud Hall were very courteous to a youth in white who was at his 20s. He carried a long sword on his back and sat still on a chair. He nodded to the maid who sent him a cup of tea and looked very punctilious.
Many people had crowded outside the hall. Xiao Wan'er had a beaming face. She wore a pink dress today and looked like a little princess adored by people. A youth in teal clothes stood beside her, and he was about the same age as Xiao Chen. He looked cold and kept silent as if he were a piece of 10,000-year-ice. His name was Xiao Han.
Xiao Chen walked into the hall and greeted that senior brother from the Three Pure Sect. Then, they were about to set off.
A dozen elders and many Xiao Family disciples saw them off at the mountain gate. Xiao Wan'er turned around and waved to the crowd, saying, "Go home, my friends! See you!"
The youth in white also turned around and said with a warm smile, "Seniors of the Xiao Family, please go back now."
There was already a carriage waiting at the foot of the mountain. After they boarded the carriage, Xiao Wan'er opened the curtain and waved goodbye to the crowd until she could not see them.
The youth in white from the Three Pure Sect smiled gently and said, "I haven't introduced myself yet. My name is Cheng Ying. Just call me Senior Brother Cheng."
Xiao Wan'er immediately sat upright and smiled. "Brother Cheng Ying, a pleasure to meet you. I'm Xiao Wan'er, you can call me Wan'er."
Xiao Chen put his zither box beside and smiled slightly. "Senior Brother Cheng, well met. I'm Xiao Chen."
Xiao Han looked at the blue sky as he moved his lips, uttering a cold voice, "Xiao Han."
Cheng Ying nodded and looked at Lil Ruo, asking, "How should I address you then?"
Lil Ruo was always afraid of strangers, now she dared not to say anything with her head down. Xiao Chen smiled and said, "This is my sister. She's used to living with me. She will accompany me there and won't take the entrance test."
It was a beautiful day in spring. After the carriage rode off the city, grass and orioles welcomed them as groups of butterflies danced among the flowers. Xiao Wan'er said with a smile, "Brother Cheng Ying, why don't we travel on the flying sword?"
Cheng Ying was quite embarrassed and smiled, saying, "My cultivation is rather low. I can only ride the sword near the mountain gate of our sect."
All along the way, Xiao Wan'er had asked many weird questions. She seemed to want to get close to Cheng Ying, but instead, her questions always made him look awkward and even flushed from time to time.
"About the Spiritual Meridians. I'm not sure how many you've got, junior sister. You'll know when we get back in the sect where you'll get tested."
"Alright..." Xiao Wan'er nodded and asked again, "Can we be apprenticed as soon as we reach the sect? Can I be apprenticed to Senior Brother Cheng Ying?"
Cheng Ying scratched his head and smiled awkwardly, saying, "You will take the test first when you get there. Our sect will only recruit five Inner Disciples and 50 Outer Disciples. The competition is pretty intense. Good luck to all of you..."
Xiao Chen looked at Xiao Han with his split vision and found that man confident. Xiao Chen was sure that Xiao Han's achievement in martial arts was higher than that of Xiao Yuan. He believed that Xiao Chen had been keeping a low profile.
Xiao Wan'er asked again, "The Violet Manor that Senior Brother Cheng Ying mentioned, where is it? Is it a place for Immortals to live in?" She looked so innocent when she spoke.
Cheng Ying smiled and said, "No, it isn't. It's a place of Cultivators' sects. The Spiritual Qi there is much more abundant than in this Human World. If you can reach the Foundation Building Realm, you'll have the chance to be sent to the Violet Manor, people that can be sent there are limited every time though."
"Got it!" Xiao Wan'er nodded and asked again, "Senior Brother Cheng Ying, what level are you in the Foundation Building Realm?"
Cheng Ying scratched his head and smiled awkwardly. "The truth is that I haven't reached the Foundation Building Realm yet. I'm now at Lv 6 Qi Refining Realm."
"Barely. The truly awesome one is Senior Brother Mo Yu. He's at Lv 9 Qi Refining Realm now, and he's the most promising disciple to be admitted to the Violet Manor."
"Wow! How powerful Senior Brother Mo Yu is!" Xiao Wan'er bore this name and Violet Manor in her mind.
Three days had passed, and the carriage had left Cloud Province. On their journey, Xiao Wan'er was the most talkative one. In contrast, Xiao Han basically did not say anything but gaze at the blue sky hour after hour.
They were close to entering the realm of the Serene Province, where green hills lay and clear streams flowed. Numerous towering mountains pierced through the clouds. The most famous one was Lingtai Mountain because the Three Pure Sect was situated there.
A long time ago, the Three Pure Sect was yet to be known to the world. Then, someday, someone on a bridge saw a man flying through the reflection on the river. He was scared as hell and then asked around. It turned out that there was a Cultivators' sect on the mountain. From then on, the Three Pure Sect was known by more and more people.
As a result, countless people entered into that mountain, with the hope to find Immortals and seek Dao. However, the clouds and mist were so thick that people could not find their way. In recent hundreds of years, the Three Pure Sect had started to recruit disciples on a big scale.
At this moment, in a small square pavilion on the mountain, an old man with white beard and hair was looking at the motions on the astrolabe in his hand. His brows furrowed tighter and tighter as the stars moved on the board. At the same time, his hand started to shake.
A woman in white floated to his side like a ghost. Yes, she floated here without touching the ground.
"Senior brother, what are you studying?"
"Who is it?!" The old man was startled as his hand shook and tossed the astrolabe. However, it bounced back against the wall and hit his face. He turned his head and stared at the woman in white, frowning. "Third Junior Sister? What are you doing here?"
"I'm here to ask you whether the new batch of disciples this year has arrived or not. You don't need to be nervous."
The woman in white was very beautiful but as cold as frost. She kept looking at the astrolabe when she spoke. Then, she frowned slightly. "Haven't you sealed this astrolabe 16 years ago? Why do you take it out again?"
The old man turned his head back. He looked at the astrolabe and sighed. "Third Junior Sister, did you still remember that sudden and bizarre incident in the sky?"
"Do you mean the 9 planets went into a straight line? And then they turned into a strong light and fell into the territory of Cloud Province?"
The old man nodded as his brows furrowed tightly. He said, "Do you still remember the eight words that were revealed on this astrolabe? 'The Demon God reincarnates, the Annihilation shall come'. Nothing has happened all these years, but three days ago when I was looking at the stars, I found they were aligned in the way the astrolabe has shown! Then I took it out and confirmed that they were the same. Moreover, the ominous star has been moving toward us over the past three days. I'm afraid something bad is about to happen..."
The woman's eyebrows tightened as she said, "Are you saying that the Skygale Sect is going to annihilate us once and for all? They have the backup in the Violet Manor. I'm afraid that we can't win if we confront them head-on."
The old man gave her a cold glance and said, "I've told you to read some books. Do you know anything about The Annihilation Times? The Annihilation Times is the end of the entire cultivation world. All cultivators will go into the Samsara and start all over again. As mighty as the Skygale Sect is, they will be doomed!"
The woman nodded slightly and said, "I see. Since everybody is going to die, what are you worrying about then?"
"You..." The old man did not know what to say. He gave another long sigh, stroked his beard and went back to the issue, saying, "The last Annihilation Times should have come 7,000 years ago during the last cultivators' era, but for some unknown reason, the Annihilation was solved. There was no record about that at all. If it did come this time, every creature on this planet would perish. I'm afraid those superior Immortals in the Violet Manor could barely save themselves, not to mention saving us Rogue Immortals in this Human World. It's a shame that we have sent so many excellent disciples there all these years."
The woman stood with both hands on her back, turned around and looked at the sky, saying, "It sounds reasonable. That's why we say 'The heaven and earth have no love, and everything on earth is like forging dogs.'"
The old man was so angry upon hearing this and said, "I'm begging you. Would you please read some books? It's 'forage dogs', not 'forging dogs'!"
The woman nodded slightly again and said, "It's just one word. Not a big deal. But since you are my senior brother, you make the call."
"You..." The old man was speechless again. He stroked his beard and sighed. "The new batch of disciples is almost here. I just hope that there will be some with good talents."
"Rest assured, senior brother. Those with good talents have already joined the Skygale Sect and Cold-billow Sword Sect. You don't need to bear any hope..."
"You! Third Junior Sister! Can you say something nice?! Don't we have talented disciples?"
The woman said, "You are the senior brother. You're right about everything..."
"Anyway, no matter what, the entrance test this time must be more difficult. We have to pick elites among elites. Otherwise, in the Nine Provinces Swordsmanship Competition next year, we Three Pure Sect would end up in last place again. At the end of the day, our sect was the only sect that inherited the Immortal King's legacy back in those years..."
The old man sighed incessantly, while the woman smiled coldly and said, "The Immortal King's legacy. The Three Pure Sect has been an underdog for so many years, but no Immortal King ever comes back here."
It was early April now. In the east of the Lingtai Mountain, there was small town hundreds of kilometers away. It used to be a small village a long time ago, but now it had expanded into a larger-scale town with fiscal support from the Three Pure Sect.
Every three to five years, Lingtai Town would be bustling with an event, which was the Recruiting Ceremony of the Three Pure Sect. Thousands of people came here to take part in this event. Most of them came from noble and aristocracy families, and others from merchant families.
The reason why this Recruiting Ceremony had drawn so many people was not that the Three Pure Sect was the most famous sect; instead, its requirement was low. People could join the sect with only one Spiritual Meridian. Some other sects like the Skygale Sect required people to have at least three Spiritual Meridians.
Many who had three Spiritual Meridians were still rejected, but they would rather wait for a few more years than join the Three Pure Sect. Therefore, even there were many people here to take the entrance test, most of them were mediocre. Even, some people without a Spiritual Meridian came here for fun.
Of course, there were numerous sects for cultivators in this Human World. Only the Three Pure Sect, the Skygale Sect, the Nine-cloud Sect, and the Cold-billow Sword Sect were counted as the four major sects. Why weren't they three major sects? The Three Pure Sect was so weak, and how could it be recognized as a major sect?
Was it because the legends had that its founder was anointed by an Immortal King who descended to the Human World a thousand years ago?
At dusk, Xiao Chen and the others arrived in the town. People were hustling in the bustling streets. Many people were peddling things like Secret Spirit Elixir, 100% Pass Pill, I'll Pay You If You Fail Herb... Anything went.
Xiao Chen shook his head and smiled upon hearing this. He suddenly stopped walking as his split vision noticed something.