Everyone quieted down upon hearing this bright laughter. All of them turned to stare outside the square and the sound of discussions immediately exploded.
"What happened? Isn't that Xiao Chen, the one who disappeared three months ago?"
"How did he come back? Isn't he already dead?"
The expression of the Elders changed. Mo Yu, who stood atop the high platform, instantly turned pale. He looked at Chu Hanyan under the platform and saw that her face had long lost color.
"Hehe. Looks like some people aren't very happy to see me back." Chuckling, Xiao Chen looked at Mo Yu who stood atop the high platform.
Mo Yu's pale face turned red. He bellowed at the Elder responsible for the ceremony, "Continue the ceremony! Why are you stopping?!"
"Wait a minute." Right then, Bai Ying entered the square from a small path in the rear while holding Murong Xian'er's hand.
Murong Xian'er appeared both excited and afraid to see so many people in such a short amount of time. She ran next to Xiao Chen and pointed at Mo Yu, who stood atop the high platform. In a loud voice, she said, "That's the bad guy. He ordered people to kill Brother Xiao Chen…"
The moment these words left her mouth, everyone exchanged looks of dismay. The sound of discussions grew even louder as they looked at Mo Yu. Mo Yu's face switched between white and red as he hastily retorted, "Why are you all looking at me? Are you going to believe a little girl's nonsense?"
He was so frightened that his soul had basically left his body at this point. What did it mean that Xiao Chen returned alive while the two people he sent didn't? If those two were interrogated and forced to rat him out, wouldn't he lose his standing at once? There was that incident three months ago as well. Wouldn't he be expelled from the sect at once? He could only depend on Chu Hanyan now.
However, he thought too much. If Xiao Chen wanted to win, he would do so openly and honorably on the platform. He had no need to use such strategies. Thus, he didn't do anything like interrogate those two earlier.
By then, Li Muxue, Luo Shangyan, Xiao Wan'er, as well as the three princes had run over to him. Xiao Chen raised his hand, indicating that he would speak to them after everything was done. He couldn't explain everything in such a short while.
Unlike others, Chu Hanyan was a lot calmer. She said placidly, "We'll hold the decisive battle promised six months ago since you're back, Junior Brother Xiao."
Sweat drenched Mo Yu's face as he hastily made his way to her. "Senior Sister Chu!"
It wasn't until Chu Hanyan shot him a look that he finally recovered his senses. What was he afraid of? His cultivation was in Lv 5 Foundation Building Realm. Just what exactly was he afraid of?
This was the so-called guilt of a criminal. The things he did with Chu Hanyan had occupied his mind and he was afraid that they would be exposed that his mental state was in disorder. He only felt relief after recalling that he was already in Lv 5 Foundation Building Realm.
He chuckled. "Senior Sister Chu is right. Since you're back, then we must have a fair duel. I think we don't have to wait anymore. We'll just do it tomorrow."
Right then, the Elders finally spoke. First Elder was the first to ask, "Xiao Chen, what is going on?"
Xiao Chen had already thought of an explanation. It didn't have to be complicated. Since this incident involved quite a few people, he was sure that the Elders were unwilling to trace the source either. "It's nothing much. I accidentally entered a prohibitive formation that day and was confined in a valley. I only managed to break out of the formation today."
It didn't matter if his explanation was reasonable. If the persons involved weren't willing to probe, there was no meaning for others to doubt him.
Thus, the ceremony for Mo Yu's entry into the Violet Manor was stopped. Their fair duel would occur tomorrow. The winner would be qualified to enter the Violet Manor two months later.
Xiao Chen still had many things to deal with and had no time to linger. First, he gave his friends a brief explanation of his experience in the past three months. Of course, he omitted the part where Chu Hanyan sent assassins after his life as well as where he went to a place with an Earth Spiritual Meridian. He also basically invented a story about Xian'er.
He then returned to the Sunset Peak to visit Lil Ruo as well as to inform Evernight that he had returned safely. Finally, he had a "celebration" with his friends to wish for his victory tomorrow.
Many people gathered at the table. Xiao Chen knew that these happy times were limited. He decided that he would visit his parents at his family home before leaving. There was also something that he must ask his father how did the Samsara Jade become the Blood Jade passed through the generations in the Xiao family.
He would also definitely meet Huangfu Xin'er before leaving. He wanted to ask her if it was truly her wish to break off their engagement back then! If it was, he wouldn't say a word about it and turn around to leave. If it wasn't…
"Hey, little miser, don't you forget about us after going to the Violet Manor. If you have the chance, bring us in as well." Shangguan Yan suddenly interrupted his line of thoughts.
Xiao Chen chuckled. "Sure thing. The day I enter the Nascent Soul Realm, I'll definitely unseal the path and let you all come over."
"Go to hell!"
"I'm not joking. When the time comes that I don't have demons like you with me, I think things would be a lot less interesting."
All of them talked and laughed without holding back. Today happened to be the beginning of mid-December. The sky was clearing up to reveal a boundless vista. However, in the distant horizon, a cluster of wicked clouds was slowly approaching without anyone's notice.
The cold wind swept the night without a sound. Xiao Chen was lying on a soft couch under a thick quilt. He found the comfort a little unfamiliar. Thoughts ran across his mind until he gradually fell asleep.
The next day, he arrived at the Black Dragon Peak and found everyone present. Even the Outer Disciples were here. Xiao Chen wasn't nervous. So what if Mo Yu's cultivation was in Lv 5 Foundation Building Realm? He had merely relied on elixirs to do so in the past few months.
The moment their shoulders brushed past each other, Mo Yu sneered and said in a low voice, "I remember telling you this a long time ago: an ant who climbs to a place where it doesn't belong must prepare to be trampled on…"
Xiao Chen smiled faintly at him. "My reply is still the same: You can try me…"
The disciples around them could feel their intense rivalry and couldn't help feeling a shiver in their hearts. Soon after, Xiao Chen walked over to the spot where the five Elders were seated in the square while holding Murong Xian'er's hand. "Xian'er, stay next to Elder Bai, okay? Don't run around."
"Okay. Don't worry, Brother Xiao Chen. Xian'er wouldn't run around." Murong Xian'er nodded cleverly.
Xiao Chen nodded and smiled at Bai Ying before saluting Second Elder next to her. He could ignore the three other Elders but Second Elder had a good relationship with Bai Ying. Naturally, he must salute him.
Second Elder felt a jolt in his heart. Though this child's cultivation was only in Lv 9, his breath wasn't weak. From the look of things, this child had received the true impartation of his Junior Sister. He immediately gave Xiao Chen a small smile.
Right then, a fit of acclamation resounded behind them. It was Mo Yu appearing from high up in the sky and flying toward the floating platform. Drawing support from the formation of the mountain gate, he trekked across the sky. This was the trademark ability of a Foundation Building Realm cultivator.
His wide sleeves floated in the wind, making him look like an immortal descending on earth. Countless female disciples below swooned. When the three princes saw this, naturally they fought back. Prince Zhao took out a one-sided banner and raised it high up, yelling, "Good luck, Senior Brother Xiao!"
Then, nearly a thousand Outer Disciples yelled in unison, "Good luck, Senior Brother Xiao! Good luck, Senior Brother Xiao!"
Their voices were incomparably orderly as if they were soldiers on the battlefield. Evidently, they had practiced this before. Their voices swiftly surpassed the screaming of the three hundred female disciples.
More than ten female Inner Disciples stamped their feet in anger. They yelled, "Why are you Sunset Peak people making so noise?!"
Prince Zhao scoffed. "What's wrong? Are you guys the only ones allowed to cheer? We can't cheer?"
Just as emotions were about to explode in the square, cries of surprise resounded from another direction. Xiao Chen was trekking across the sky toward the floating platform as well.
"What's going on?! Isn't he only in Lv 9 Qi Refining Realm? How can he trek across the sky?"
The eyes of more than ten of the ordinary Inner Elders brightened. They nodded secretly. Though this child was only in Lv 9 Qi Refining Realm, his figure was a lot firmer than Mo Yu's.
Moments later, the audience below finally became silent. The two people atop the floating platform slowly approached the center, where two Immortal's Swords were inserted to the ground. To ensure the impartiality of this duel, no one was allowed to use his own magic treasure or Immortal's Sword.
After the two of them retrieved their swords, Mo Yu went on the offense without saying a word and unleashed a set of First Elder's unique technique, the Cloud-engulfing Swordplay. Sure enough, he managed to display a power that was capable of engulfing mountains and rivers. The shadows of his sword overlapped and filled the sky. The sea of clouds around him immediately rolled over alongside the wind produced by the sword.
Under the platform, everyone could watch the duel unfold with exceptional clarity through the mirrored image. Cries resounded immediately. Tens of Elders stroked their beards as they watched calmly. Though Xiao Chen had a firm grasp of his Qi refinement, Mo Yu nevertheless had a Lv 5 Foundation Building Realm cultivation. From the look of things, Xiao Chen's chance of victory was small.
Facing the Sword Qi that surged like violent waves of a turbulent sea, Xiao Chen concentrated on using his sword without showing any expression. Bai Ying's words yesterday rang next to his ears: "Kid, Mo Yu is definitely superior to you in terms of explosive power since he has Lv 5 Foundation Building Realm cultivation. But when it comes to endurance, he's far beneath you. So you must take up as much time as possible and wait for him to exhaust his True Energy…"
With a clanging sound, Xiao Chen split open a burst of Sword Qi that attacked him. He made a point with the tip of his foot and flew more than ten feet backward. Mo Yu sneered and once again attacked, unleashing one killing technique after another.
Their fight continued for half an hour. Xiao Chen remained wandering on the platform without going on the offensive. The voices below the platform resounded continuously. "What is he doing? If he can't win, then he shouldn't fight! Why bother running around?"
The three princes were getting worried. Prince Zhao said, "What do you people know? This is what we call 'releasing the kite'! This is the most brilliant battle tactic!"
"Tsk! Stop bullshitting! If he can't win, just say so!" Naturally, he invited mocking replies.
Right then, two disciples atop another high platform acted as if they had understood something. "Senior Brother Mo has powerful offensive means. He's like an unstoppable army going down south. But look at Junior Brother Xiao. He has been retreating all along and had no way of fighting back under Senior Brother Mo's rain of attacks. Is this the disparity between a Qi Refining Realm cultivator and a Foundation Building Realm cultivator… Ah! Hurry and look! Junior Brother Xiao is finally fighting back…"
Above the floating platform, the situation was finally changing. This time, Xiao Chen no longer dodged Mo Yu and answered the latter's attack with his sword. In an instant, their swords met with a clang and emitted countless sparks.
Unexpectedly, Mo Yu took two steps in retreat. He sneered and said solemnly, "Don't think that you caught my Achilles' heel. Let me tell you this. I've already sent people to kill those two yesterday. They can never come back and be your witnesses…"
Xiao Chen laughed. He had never thought of using any sort of trick. People who sin would inevitably receive heavenly punishment. He had no need to expose Mo Yu's ugly side.
"Do you think I'll similarly use thug-like methods to deal with people who use elixirs to catalyze their cultivation like you?" Sneering, Xiao Chen summoned enough True Energy to send Mo Yu flying a foot away.
Immediately, surprised cries broke out below. The one who was explaining earlier was dumbstruck. "What?! Junior Brother Xiao actually sent Senior Brother Mo flying with a single move?"
Mo Yu couldn't help feeling startled after regaining his footing. The force in the attack earlier was absolutely not of Lv 9 Qi Refining Realm! This bastard had been hiding his strength to wait for him to exhaust his True Energy!
Xiao Chen laughed coldly. "Then, Senior Brother Mo, I'm going to start fighting back now. Are you ready?!"