Xiao Chen was a little stunned that he wasn't allowed to harbor feelings of regret. To be honest, he found it to be a pity to suddenly give up his skills and return to the Lv 1 Qi Refining Realm.
"What do you think? Have you thought it through? If you've decided, I'll help you undo your cultivation. Remember that you can't harbor other thoughts, especially thoughts of regret, or both of us will be harmed."
"Hang on, hang on! I'm still preparing!"
Xiao Chen immediately sat down cross-legged and started taking deep breaths. He tried his best to adjust his emotions. It was just a matter of having his cultivation undone. It wasn't like he wouldn't regain his cultivation. Moreover, when he recovers his cultivation in the future, he would even be much stronger than he was right now. What was there to feel pity about?
"Come on! I'm ready!"
"Great! Here I come!" Bai Ying sat down in front of him cross-legged.
"Hey! Why are you taking off your clothes?" Xiao Chen immediately closed his eyes.
"Ahem, well, I must take off my clothes. I can't have foreign objects standing in my way. You're not allowed to open your eyes or harbor other thoughts. Do you hear me?"
"How I can not harbor other thoughts when you're like this?!"
Thus, an hour later, a sweat-drenched Xiao Chen said in a small voice, "E... Elder, have you put on your clothes yet?"
"Idiot, open your eyes and see! Since when did I take off my clothes? I was just trying to distract you earlier so you wouldn't feel regret and render our efforts in vain."
Xiao Chen carefully opened his eyes. Only then did he exhale a sigh of relief. "So you were tricking me. I was even so nervous for so long..."
"Tsk, tsk. Kid, your imagination sure is wonderful. Youngsters like you... Tut, tut..."
"Can you not behave this way?! You made me think of that!"
"Forget it. How do you feel?"
Xiao Chen took a deep breath. His cultivation had returned to Lv 1 Qi Refining Realm, the level he was in back when Ye Shaochong's gang bullied him. He couldn't help smiling wryly. "I've spent all these months cultivating in vain."
"Wrong! It's definitely not in vain! Either way, train intensively for the next three months and return to Lv 7 Qi Refining Realm. From now on, you can only sleep four hours a day. I'll supervise your training the rest of the time."
"That's... That's not the case?" Xiao Chen felt as if a dark cloud was rapidly gathering rapidly overhead, but he was already stranded on a thief's boat. What could he possibly do?
Time passed so quickly that in a flash, it was already late autumn and everything was on the verge of death. Only the cherry blossoms on the Fullmoon Cliff were suspended in eternal springtime. Amid the rain of flowers, two sword radiance shuttled back and forth in midair.
"Hey, master! Be careful!" Xiao Chen thrust his sword. Bai Ying chuckled as she blocked his attack horizontally while using as a twig as a sword. Unexpectedly, Xiao Chen's used too much force in his thrust. The biting cold Sword Qi snapped the twig in her hand with a creak.
Bai Ying felt a sudden spell of dizziness. She gently closed her eyes and slowly fell down from midair. Startled, Xiao Chen made a sharp turn of his body to embrace her and slowly fall to the ground.
"Wake up, master. It's my fault. I shouldn't have been so heavy-handed."
Xiao Chen's brows furrowed as he stared quietly at the woman in his arms. He was obviously aware that the Unsullied Sword was an ancient Legendary Weapon and that her health had been so poor lately that she would often faint for no reason. Why did he still use so much force earlier?
Sighing, he carried her inside the Moon-watch Pavilion and gently placed her on a bench.
In the span of three months, Xiao Chen's cultivation had returned to Lv 7 Qi Refining Realm. He undid his cultivation at Lv 5 and 6 respectively and had long crushed the two large black iron ores into smithereens.
His current self was far superior to him at Lv 7 three months ago. He could even command the air space for a short time.
An hour later, Bai Ying woke up with a loud scream. Xiao Chen turned and saw the cold sweat dotting her face. He walked over to her. "What's the matter?"
Bai Ying looked up with a deadly pale face. When she saw him approaching, she looked as if she was staring at something terrifying and retreated rapidly. "Don't come here!"
Xiao Chen stopped in his tracks and frowned. "Did you experience that frightening dream again?"
It took Bai Ying a long time before she fully awakened. She murmured, "I always have a hard time opening my eyes each time I'm trapped in a nightmare. It's like that person is in front of me. My mind is always in a disorder. I'm sorry for what I did earlier..."
Xiao Chen went over to her and wiped the cold sweat on her forehead. "You're tired. Let's not practice swordsmanship today."
Bai Ying nodded. "Come to the cave behind my house in three days. I've prepared some things for you. Moreover, you'll have to start preparing to enter the Foundation Building Realm. Mo Yu is already Lv 2 Foundation Building Realm. If you're unable to enter that realm, you'll face great risk."
The next day, Xiao Chen went to Fullmoon Cliff to perform sword-dance on his own for a long time. When he saw no sign of Bai Ying, he returned to Sunset Peak on his flying sword. There were few chances for him to go back - it was only once a month. Naturally, Xiao Ruo couldn't be happier to see him. When the three princes saw a sword radiance falling in his courtyard, they knew that he must have returned and also rushed over.
The five of them talked and laughed in the courtyard. It was if they had returned to the days when they first met. When afternoon rolled around, Xiao Chen finally found some silence. He carried the Jade Zither to the small cliff outside his yard. Facing the mountains and rustling autumn, he played the zither all by himself, song after song. No one came to him.
"To think that you have the mood to play the zither here when your decisive battle is so close at hand." Just then, a moving voice came from behind him.
Xiao Chen found the voice to be very familiar and immediately pressed onto the string to stop the song. He turned around and said, "Muxue, why have you returned?"
Li Muxue, still dressed in clothing whiter than snow, strolled over to him. She smiled sweetly and said, "Of course, I returned after hearing that you're dueling someone."
Xiao Chen felt immense joy in his heart. He got up and walked over with a smile. "This lowly commoner feels deeply honored to have the monarch come all the way here."
Li Muxue shot him a harmless glare. "In just a short three months that we didn't see each other, your mouth has gotten worse." She walked to the Jade Zither behind Xiao Chen. "What an unusual zither..."
"Don't touch that zither!"
However, Xiao Chen had barely gotten the words out when the strings under Li Muxue's fingers suddenly let out a resounding echo. The sound was clearly audible.
Xiao Chen hurried over and took her hand. "Are you all right? Does it hurt?"
Li Muxue blushed and quickly withdrew her hand. She looked up and said, "What's the matter? This zither has a very good tone."
Xiao Chen was surprised. Evernight once told him that there was a dense Death Qi hidden inside the zither. The Qi of the living had no way of countering it for only Death Qi could counteract Death Qi. Therefore, no one could play the zither. But why was she able to...
While he was still engrossed in his thoughts, Li Muxue sat in front of the zither and began playing it. The sound of the zither was erratic, sounding unreal yet real at the same time. It was hard to distinguish an illusion from reality. It was like a dream, just like when Zhuang Zhou dreamed of butterflies. Zhuang Zhou didn't know if he had dreamt he was a butterfly or he was a butterfly dreaming that he was Zhuang Zhou.
Xiao Chen couldn't help feeling so stupefied that he got lost in his thoughts. He had always been proud of his unrivaled zither skills and didn't wish for anyone in the world to be on par with him. The song that Li Muxue played sounded both unreal and real. He felt as if he was dreaming. He couldn't help feeling shocked. He often dreamed of his master, Ling Yin, and the dreams had always seemed so real. Was it he who dreamed of his master or was it his master who dreamed of him?
"You... What's the name of this song?"
Li Muxue smiled faintly and turned around. "Nice, isn't it? It's a song I learned in my dream, called 'Dreamlike Life'. Thinking about it, it's somewhat similar to your mysterious song."
Xiao Chen nodded. Just who was this girl...
Suddenly, a violent formation began shaking, creating gusts of fierce winds. Then, they saw several sword radiance streaked across the sky to fly in the direction of the Black Dragon Peak at top speed. Xiao Chen's gaze stiffened when he noticed that the sword radiance didn't belong to the swordsmanship of the Three Pure Sect. He said solemnly, "Someone broke into the Black Dragon Peak!"
Li Muxue also saw the sword radiance in the sky. Her expression became solemn. "Let's go and have a look!"
Xiao Chen immediately returned the zither to his house and the two of them set off for the Black Dragon Peak on their flying swords.
What greeted them was the scurrying shadows atop the Black Dragon Peak. The disciples all had unsheathed their flying swords and the five Elders, except Bai Ying, were already here. Suspended in midair was a figure dressed in green as he looked down at the thousands of people below.
The man stood upright in midair. His robe billowed on his own without the presence of any wind. It was as if all it took was one look from him to break the spirits of everyone here. He frightened countless disciples of the Three Pure Sect into silence. Even their flying sword fells to the ground under the pressure of such a strong aura.
First Elder took a step forward. His voice subtly trembled as he said, "Perfected Immortal Yunyin, what do you mean by breaking into the Three Pure Sect today? My Senior Brother will return in a few days. If you have any business with us, please come back in a couple of days."
The man suspended in midair flicked his sleeves coldly. "Don't try and frighten me with Taoist Zixu. If he could return, he would've already! Hurry and hand over Bai Ying and the one called Xiao Chen! Or do you want me to do it myself?"
The moment he made this remark, countless disciples standing beneath him felt that disaster was imminent. It was the result of the competition three months ago. This man was one of the four Elders of the Skygale Sect of the Human World. His cultivation was already in the Core Forming Realm, two levels higher than the cultivation of First Elder.
There was a rule against aggression among Cultivators' sects. One wasn't allowed to enter another sect without authorization. However, it was only relatively speaking. The Skygale Sect was the strongest sect. Someone from the sect could enter any sect he wanted, for who would dare stop him?
Moreover, the grand defensive formation of the Three Pure Sect was effective only against members of Devils' sects. It was incapable of stopping Perfected Immortal Yunyin who similarly belonged to the Cultivators' sects. Masters like him were free to come and go as they pleased.
Perfected Immortal Yunyin flicked his sleeve coldly. "I'm giving Zixu face today, but if you still don't hand them over, I'll definitely purge the Three Pure Sect from this world when the other three Elders of the Skygale Sect arrive!"
The four Elders felt cold sweat drenching their backs. The man's words were true. Without their leader, the Three Pure sect confronting the Skygale Sect would be tantamount to throwing eggs at stones.
Standing behind Perfected Immortal Yunyin was a male and a female disciple. The two disciples wore cold smiles as they looked down at the disciples of the Three Pure Sect. It was as if they were looking down at ants. The male disciple sneered and said, "Elder Yan, I think you'd better hand them over as soon as possible lest you cause the death of all your disciples later."
Right then, an idle voice came from outside the square. "What's with all the noise? You're disturbing my nap..." Bai Ying walked over, yawning.
First Elder trembled all over and immediately glared at her. "You injured his disciple three months ago! Hurry and apologize to Perfected Immortal Yunyin!"
Bai Ying yawned before casting an indifferent gaze upward. "Casualties are a non-factor in a duel among members of Cultivators' sects. What's wrong? Is the senior stepping up because the junior couldn't win?"