Mo Yu's solemn expression immediately eased and he smiled faintly. "So it's Junior Sister Li..."
"I won't repeat my words a second time. It's up to you to choose, Senior Brother Mo." That voice once again resounded but faded completely after.
Cold sweat gradually beaded in the space between Mo Yu's eyebrows as if he was under increasing pressure. Xiao Chen raised his head to look far into the horizon but saw no one. However, he found the voice earlier to be somewhat familiar. It sounded as if it belonged to the girl he met by the little bridge.
"Give me back my sword!" Luo Shangyan said coolly.
Mo Yu clenched his fist so tightly that his knuckles creaked. With a flick of his sleeves, he sent the Unsullied Sword flying and the sword ended up stabbing the wall. Then he made his exit on his flying sword.
Luo Shangyan immediately walked to the wall to retrieve the sword and return it to Xiao Chen. Xiao Chen sneered while staring at the snow-white and flawless Unsullied Sword. "I couldn't even protect my own sword. Hehe."
Luo Shangyan sighed. "His cultivation is in Lv 9 Qi Refining Realm. It's not your fault. I'll find a way to hand you the mental technique of Qi Refining Realm this month..." She then left on her flying sword.
Just then, Mo Yu stood on the side of a certain cliff in the biting cold weather. He clenched his fists with such force that his knuckles creaked. Suddenly, a voice came from behind him. "Tsk, tsk, tsk..."
"Who?!" Mo Yu abruptly turned around and saw a masked man sauntering over to him. He looked around nervously before saying in a low voice, "This is the Black Dragon Peak! Don't you want your life anymore?"
The masked man smiled faintly. "I dare to come here even when the old Taoist of the Violet Manor is around, let alone now that he's not here."
"What are you here?"
"Nothing much. I'm just here to tell you that it's just a shabby sword, but look at how envious you've become. You better remember not to ruin your proper business..."
"I know what to do, I don't need you to tell me rubbish here!"
When the new moon hung overhead the summit three nights later, the blade of the sword, the cold radiance, as well as the silent murderous intention filled the courtyard. The whizzing of wind resounded incessantly. Holding the Unsullied Sword in hand, Xiao Chen wielded the Unsullied Sword in his hand like he was performing a chaotic sword. The shadows of the sword were a daze and the point of the sword moved soundlessly. The rustling leaves in the courtyard fell, each leaf cut into seven or eight pieces by the Sword Qi. The ground was scattered with such cut leaves.
"The unsullied person possesses supreme sereneness... What constitutes demonic ways and what constitutes the right path? Kill, kill, kill!"
Suddenly, a black Qi flashed on the space between his eyebrows and he performed his swordplay at an accelerated pace. Strong winds rose from all directions and whistled incessantly. Moments later, the shadows of the branches of the Snow Chaste Tree trembled and a petal immediately floated to the ground.
Quiet sounds of footsteps came from behind him. Xiao Chen abruptly turned around while thrusting his sword. The sharp end of the blade stopped short of Lil Ruo's midbrows by a hair.
"Young Master, this is already the third day. Why don't you go back to your room for a rest? If you keep going, you'll suffer Qi-deviancy Derangement..." Lil Ruo's voice turned hoarse and the rim of her eyes reddened. She began tearing up.
The black Qi on Xiao Chen's mid-brows gradually dissipated. He muttered, "Is this already the third day...?" Then he abruptly fainted.
Ever since he lost to the twig in Mo Yu's hands three days ago, he had spent the past three days diligently training his swordsmanship. He did not shut his eyes even once during this time.
This afternoon, Prince Zhao, as well as Second Princes of Qi and Yan, was seated inside a guest room inside a tavern in Lingtai Town. A moment later, an imposing old man walked into the room.
"Your humble servant greets Your Highness!"
Prince Zhao raised his hand and said coolly, "Did you find it?"
"Yes, Your Highness. Ye Family is an aristocratic family in Cangzhou with a military background. The Master of the family, Ye Lingtian, is the prefectural magistrate," the old man replied respectfully.
Prince Zhao's eyes narrowed. "Cangzhou? Is Cangzhou is still plagued with neverending disasters? My Royal Father sends them provisions for disaster relief every year. Don't tell me the disasters are still not under control."
The old man asked deferentially, "What do you mean, Your Highness?"
Prince Zhao slammed his hand on the table and said coolly, "Ye Family sure has the gall! Misappropriating the provisions for disaster relief is a crime punishable by death! Send someone to covertly investigate them. If they misappropriated the provisions, execute all three generations of their family!"
"This..." The old man was evidently shocked.
"Hm? Don't tell me it's impossible."
"This humble servant will immediately send someone to your bidding," the old man replied deferentially. After a moment of silence, he added, "Your Highness, I think it's better for you to return and stop cultivating to be immortals. It's simply too dangerous here. I simply don't feel comfortable leaving you out here all alone..."
Prince Zhao raised his hand. "You don't have to worry about me. Oh, by the way, how is my Royal Sister recently?"
"The Princess has been whining about coming to see you, Your Highness. She even sneaked out of the palace last month but His Majesty promptly sent his men to stop and bring her back..."
Prince Zhao placed his hand to his forehead. "Tell her not to come. I'm not even in the Qi Refining Realm now. We'll talk again after I attain that realm."
On the three princes' way back to Three Pure Sect this afternoon, Prince Zhao said, "This matter must not be revealed to Senior Brother Xiao. Understood?"
"Don't worry. We'll definitely not let Senior Brother Xiao find out."
"Hmph! There is no part of this massive land that doesn't belong to the Emperor! Ye Fei and Ye Shaochong have truly gone blind! I'll have their whole family executed and wiped out their nine generations of descendants!"
Seven more days passed, with Xiao Chen practicing his swordsmanship each day before dawn. He did not go to the Sky-gazing Gorge either and waited only for Luo Shangyan to bring the mental technique for the Qi Refining Realm. His mood improved considerably after thinking how he would soon enter the Foundation Building Realm.
Today, he was practicing in his courtyard when the three princes hastily came to his door. With an anxious expression, Prince Zhao said, "Senior Brother Xiao, this time you must really help me!"
Xiao Chen put his sword behind his back and frowned. "What is it?"
"My... My Royal Sister is here!"
One hour later.
"Brother, is this where you're staying? It's not scenic but it's rather quiet and secluded, I suppose."
"Err... Yes, yes, yes. Hurry up and go in, Younger Sister."
"Huh? Who are they?"
"Oh, this is Junior Brother Xiao, Junior Brother Qi, and Junior Brother Yan. That's the maid that the Elder assigned me after noticing my great aptitude. Ahem, aren't you all going to greet the Princess?"
They saw a delicately-dressed, 15 or 16-year-old girl standing at the gate of the courtyard. Her eyes were as beautiful as limpid autumn waters and her skin was as white as winter snow. Her hair was combed neatly behind her back and her jade hairpin swayed gently in the wind. She wore a thin dress of a green jade color with a light muslin tied around her delicate waist. Her waist was so slender it seemed like they could grasp it with their hand.
Second Princes Qi and Yan shook their heads and dragged the tails of their sentences. "Commoner— greets the Princess..."
"Oh... Never mind, never mind! You may dispense with the curtsying and stand up!"
Xiao Chen chuckled and replied, "There's a beautiful woman in the north who is both exceptional and independent. One look at her causes people to lose their city, one more look causes them to lose their country. I'm Xiao Chen. I've long heard of the Princess and now that I finally see you today, I'm blessed for three lifetimes."
With a reddening face, Princess Zhao shifted closer to Prince Zhao and said quietly, "Brother, is that your Junior Brother Xiao? He looks so unsophisticated..."
"Err... Younger Sister, I'll show you the Cloud-boring Sword Qi that I successfully learned just recently." With an awkward smile, Prince Zhao placed two fingers together and pointed them at a certain wall. Xiao Chen immediately triggered his True Energy and flicked in the direction in which Prince Zhao pointed at. With a thump, a hole appeared in the wall of the courtyard.
"Wow! You've become so powerful, Elder Brother!" Princess Zhao began to clap and cheer.
Prince Zhao looked smug. "Of course! Don't you know who's your Elder Brother..."
"But isn't your Three Pure Sect a little too small?"
Prince Zhao coughed and then pointed at a mountain peak high up in the clouds. "See that? That's where ordinary disciples cultivate. This place is where elite disciples..."
"Why would elite disciples cultivate in such a short and tiny mountain peak..."
"Ahem. Anyway, when are you planning to leave, Younger Sister?"
"Return? I still haven't had my fill of playing out here! I'll go back in another month or two..."
Thus, the four of them ended up spending their afternoon like that. Lil Ruo then made them a table full of dishes.
"Brother, your maid's cooking skills are terrible. How can she compare to the great cooks in our imperial kitchen..."
"Ahem. It hasn't been so long since Lil Ruo came. She'll be fine once I instruct her a little..."
"Then why is the maid also sitting with us? She really has no idea of the rules..."
"Ahem. Yes, yes, yes. Lil Ruo, you may leave!"
Xiao Chen's expression was very dark. Prince Qi and Prince Yan lowered their heads and busied themselves with eating, pretending like they had heard nothing at all.
After dinner, Prince Zhao said pleadingly, "Younger Sister, consider it as me begging you. Please go home. Royal Father will be very angry if he finds out that you've sneaked out of the palace. Moreover, if neither of us is in the palace, who will talk to our Royal Mother?"
"Please don't! I finally managed to sneak out after much difficulty; how can I return so quickly..." Princess Zhao's eyes darted all around as she spoke. She grinned when she noticed the Jade Zither on the desk. "Oh? Brother, since when did you start playing the zither?" She then ran over.
Xiao Chen's expression darkened and he yelled, "Don't touch that zither!"
Princess Zhao turned her head and said in confusion, "What's wrong? I know how to play the zither and I'm also very good at it..."
Prince Zhao immediately tugged on Xiao Chen's arm and said with a sheepish grin, "That's right. My sister knows how to play the zither. She won't damage it..."
Before he even finished his sentence, Princess Zhao had already run over to the zither. Just as she was about to strum the strings to test its tone, Xiao Chen frantically yelled, "You must not touch it!"
Unfortunately, it was too late to stop her. Princess Zhao's slender, jade-like finger was already touching the zither but it made no sound. Instead, it was her who screeched.