"What's wrong, Younger Sister?" Prince Zhao hastily walked over to Princess Zhao. When he grabbed her hands for a look, he saw a very thin cut on her middle finger. Purple blood was flowing out of the wound.
"Sob... It hurts so badly. Why is it so painful..." Princess Zhao was in so much pain that tears were flowing freely from her eyes.
Xiao Chen immediately walked to them. He clearly saw a wisp of black Qi rising from the zither string and entering Princess Zhao's finger. It was a very dense Death Qi! Of course, with the others' superficial knowledge, they could not see this Qi.
He picked up her hand and immediately ushered energy into her body to force the Death Qi out. Stunned, Prince Zhao cried, "Y-Y-You! How audacious! Let go of my sister's hand at once!"
Princess Zhao blushed and immediately pulled her hand away.
"Oh, I apologize. I offended you in a moment of urgency. Do you feel a little better now, Princess?"
"It seems like... it's not hurting much anymore..." Princess Zhao replied quietly. She then glared at the zither. "Brother, your zither bit me! I want to smash it!"
"Dear God! Can you stop causing a fuss, my little Princess?" Prince Zhao immediately hugged her but despite her petiteness and delicateness, she possessed incredible strength.
Princes Qi and Yan held their foreheads and pretended that they did not see anything. Xiao Chen said helplessly, "Come on, let's go out. There's a Demon inside this house."
"Ah! So there's a Demon here!" The moment Princess Zhao heard that there was a Demon lurking here, she was so frightened that she ran out of the courtyard until she was under the sunlight.
Thus, when afternoon rolled around, Prince Zhao finally managed to scare the little princess enough with mentions of Demons, spirits, and hobgoblins and force her to go home. When Prince Zhao returned to the courtyard, he smiled wryly at them. "That... I'm very sorry, Senior Brother Xiao. My sister is just that mischevious..."
"Hmph!" Xiao Chen walked away with a flick of his sleeves.
"That... Brother Qi and Brother Yan..."
"Hmph!" Prince Qi and Prince Yan also flicked their sleeves and walked out of the courtyard.
"That... Younger Sister Lil Ruo..."
"Hmph!" Lil Ruo stomped her feet and went back inside the house as well.
"Er... Fine. It's all my fault..."
When night fell, Xiao Chen entered the house and looked at the Jade Zither. "That was a little excessive, Evernight. She's just a little girl. Why take her so seriously?"
Evernight materialized out of the zither and looked at him, "You think it is I who did it?"
"Who can it be if not for you?"
Placing her hands over her chest, Evernight raised her head with a laugh. "What a joke! Now that I'm no longer in the zither, why don't you find someone to try it?"
Xiao Chen's expression turned solemn. "What do you mean, Evernight? Are you saying that this zither..." He suddenly recalled how ferocious the wisp of Death Qi that came out of the zither was. How could Evernight possess such dense Death Qi?"
Evernight gave a cold laugh and said scornfully, "Youngster, I suppose you don't know the origins of this zither."
"Speak." Xiao Chen looked incredibly somber. The zither had always been strange since it was brought to the Xiao Family Manor. No matter who strummed the strings, no one made any noise. Their fingers would be cut as well. The zither was very bloodthirsty. He initially thought that it was Evernight being protective of the zither but that was evidently not the case.
Evernight looked at the Jade Zither that was of deep sandalwood color on the table and said slowly, "This zither is named the Jade Ornament of Ninth Heaven. It has many owners over the years and each one would suffer a violent death without exception! That's why its murderous aura doesn't dissipate and it becomes so bloodthirsty. It's also why there's such a dense Death Qi inside!"
Xiao Chen's heart jumped. Jade Ornament of Ninth Heaven! He had also heard about the legendary zither of the Lei Clan. The Master of the Lei Clan had spent all of his efforts over a lifetime to build the zither called the "Jade Ornament of Ninth Heaven" but when the zither was completed, the entire clan suffered a great calamity and the zither also went missing after. The later generations then recorded its legend in books.
"That's right! The Master of the Lei Clan had spent all of his efforts over a lifetime to make the zither. He didn't expect that the moment he unleashed the zither, there would be a blood moon in the sky and safflowers everywhere. More than a hundred old and young Lei clansmen met a violent death in a single night! Their grievances were all concentrated in this zither!"
Xiao Chen was deeply startled. Wouldn't that make this zither the most fearsome zither in the world?
Evernight snorted, "Why would there be such a dense Death Qi hidden in the zither otherwise? Once someone with Living Qi, his or her predestined lifespan will surely take a hit. Yet a youngster like you is able to restrain the Death Qi of the zither..."
Restrain the Death Qi of the zither...
Suddenly, a chill ran through Xiao Chen's entire body and he felt as if he had been submerged into an icehouse. Only Death Qi could restrain Death Qi, something that Living Qi could never do. Yet why was he able to restrain the zither's Death Qi? Could he possibly be...
Everyone had died thousands of years ago, yet why was he alone the survivor? This was not a coincidence but a shockingly great scheme!
The next morning, Luo Shangyan brought him two books that were copied by hand and said in a quiet voice, "This is the mental technique for the third and fourth level. Use them for the time being. I'll come up with a way to get the rest."
Xiao Chen accepted the books and felt that any words that he could say now would only be superfluous. "Thank you, Senior Sister Luo," he said gently.
Luo Shangyan did not reply. She walked quietly to the door and left on her flying sword.
With the latest cultivation methods as well as his 12 Spiritual Meridians, his cultivation improved by leaps and bounds. Three months quickly passed him by, with Lingtai Mountain welcoming the intense heat of July. The Senior and Junior Sisters had all started wearing thinner clothing. When dusk approached every day, the fragrance of plum blossoms would permeate the mountain. It was a beautiful scenery indeed.
Out of the blue, a sword radiance crashed into his courtyard. It was Xiao Chen's flying sword that had made its return. He was already in the Lv 6 Qi Refining Realm now and Luo Shangyan had already passed him the mental technique for entering Lv 7 Qi Refining Realm.
The only problem was that the Spiritual Qi in the Sky-gazing Gorge was no longer sufficient for him. He needed to go somewhere with an abundance of Spiritual Qi or he would be hard pressed to make any dramatic improvements in his cultivation. Even though there was only one level of difference between Lv 6 and Lv 7, their gap was like heaven and earth. Being in Lv 6 meant he was in the middle stage, while being in Lv 7 meant he was in the later stage. It was as if there was a great chasm between them.
Meanwhile, no major incident took place in Three Pure Sect in the past three months save for Sect Leader, Perfected Immortal Zixu, has yet to return after leaving to investigate the Soul-consuming Evil Flower. Neither had he wrote a letter to the sect. These days, heavy fog would often shroud Lingtai Mountain as the five Elders strengthen the defensive formation near the mountain gate.
Similarly, Xiao Chen had also written a letter home and learned that his grandfather had also not returned. It was the same over at the Sanctum of the Arcane Spring. The three moguls of the Human World seemed to have vanished into thin air.
"You're back, Young Master?" The door opened with a creak and Lil Ruo walked out of the house. "Xiao Wan'er and Xiao Han came to find you earlier in the afternoon."
Xiao Chen frowned. "Why did they look for me?"
"I don't know. They left after seeing that you weren't around."
"Hm, I understand." Xiao Chen nodded and looked up. He saw black clouds enveloping several of the peaks as if it was signaling something.
Early next morning, Xiao Chen was preparing to go out when two sword radiance in the sky landed and transformed into two people dressed in green and red respectively.
"Hehe! Brother Xiao Chen!"
Xiao Wan'er ran over to him, almost bouncing and skipping happily as she did. She was dressed in a refreshing red dress today and her elegance appearance was incredibly attractive. Meanwhile, Xiao Han continued wearing his cold poker face.
It had been three months since they last met. Xiao Chen said with a chuckle, "Why are you two here?"
Xiao Wan'er giggled as she made a spin around him. "You got taller again, Cousin Brother. How's your cultivation? I myself have entered Lv 3 Qi Refining Realm, you know," she said with a smile.
Xiao Chen smiled wryly. "How can I compare to you people who are in the Inner Gate? I'm still at Lv 1."
"Ah? Why would it turn out that way..." A regretful expression crossed Xiao Wan'er's face.
Xiao Chen chuckled. Being in the Inner Gate, these two were able to cultivate in a place with abundant Spiritual Qi. Moreover, their aptitude was decent as well. Xiao Han's cultivation had also reached Lv 4 Qi Refining Realm. Xiao Chen smiled and asked, "Well, why are you looking for me?"
With a grin, Xiao Wan'er came close to him and whispered into his ears. Xiao Chen shook his head with a smile. It turned out that Xiao Wan'er had gotten bored staying up the mountain and had been looking to go outside and play.
Thus, the three of them sneaked down the mountain and arrived at the great valley where they had the first round of the examination. This time, the Elders had even employed the use of Sight-obscuring Formation and the entire place was left deserted. It looked incredibly thrilling.
Xiao Wan'er said happily, "Cousin Brother, you're still unable to operate a flying sword, right? It's fine. I'll bring you over! Hehe!" She unsheathed her flying sword and landed on it with a light jump. She extended a hand to Xiao Chen. "Come! Don't be scared!"
Xiao Chen shook his head with a smile and grabbed onto her hand. He jumped with ease. When he landed, the blade immediately trembled and sank considerably. Xiao Han frowned. "Will you be okay? If you fall, I won't be able to save you."
"Hmph! Stop looking down on me!" Xiao Wan'er snorted. She swiftly performed some seals and her sword flew unsteadily toward the other side. Xiao Han cautiously flew next to her, not daring to leave them behind and flying over by himself.
When they reached the center of the valley and the power of the formation became weaker, Xiao Wan'er became a little nervous. She said quietly, "Don't be scared, Brother Xiao Chen. Hold my waist." She then released her grip on Xiao Chen's hand and began to use both of her hands to cast a spell.
Xiao Chen wrapped his hands around her slender waist and found her skin to be very soft and smooth. Instantly, a burst of fragrance assailed his nostrils. When they almost reached the other side, the blade of the sword abruptly shuddered violently. Xiao Wan'er was so startled that she yelped.
Xiao Chen secretly poured True Energy into the sword at once. "Your flying sword is manipulated by your heart. Just think of what lies below as a flat ground and you'll have nothing to fear."
Moments later, they finally reached the other side safely. Xiao Wan'er grinned and said, "I'm great, aren't I, Brother Xiao Chen?"
"Yep." Xiao Chen nodded with a smile.
The three of them immediately headed for the nearby Lingtai Town. On their way there, their cheerful conversation was punctuated by easy laughter. They were not as reserved as they were in Three Pure Sect. Xiao Chen said, "Oh right, how are your lives in the Inner Gate?"
"How else do you think our lives would be? Those Senior Brothers and Sisters would order us around just because of their seniority. They don't respect us in the slightest! It's so infuriating!" Xiao Wan'er said, fuming.
"Especially that Wen Qingyu and Mo Yu! They... Sigh!" Xiao Wan'er heaved a heavy sigh before looking at Xiao Chen. "Cousin Brother, how nice would it be if you can defeat them? We wouldn't have to be bullied all the time..."
Xiao Chen did not reply. After they arrived at the town, they took a tour around the place and entered a tavern for their meal when afternoon rolled around. Just as they were having their meal, a green-clothed girl suddenly walked in with a little bottle gourd in hand. They watched her put the gourd down on the reception desk with force and said loudly, "Shopkeeper, fill this gourd up! I want the best aged Shaoxing wine!"
She drew the attention of everyone inside the tavern but it was not because her voice was too loud. Rather, she possessed a peerless beauty. She wore a bluish-green dress that hugged her slender waist snugly. Her exceptional beauty made her look unlike someone of this world.
Moments later, the shopkeeper forced a smile. "What's this bottle gourd of yours, young lady? Even after we pour two large jars of the wine inside, it doesn't seem to be filling up."
"Stop with the nonsense! Keep going! Eight more jars and it'll be full!"
Xiao Chen wore a solemn expression. Just a moment ago, he detected a wisp of Demonic Qi!