Chapter 374: Hostage!
A boy appeared up above, wearing a long red robe. As he strode forth, the pressure that felt like heavenly might grew even more intense.
Ripples even appeared on the surface of the Heavenspan River, and the plants and vegetation in all four mountain ranges of the River-Defying Sect bent over as if they were bowing in obeisance.
If even the plants and vegetation were affected, it almost wasn’t necessary to mention the cultivators. Frigidsect and the other patriarchs hesitated for only a moment; as soon as they saw that boy, expressions of dread rose on their faces.
Even the Dire Skybanyan was trembling.
“A deva....” Frigidsect said, trembling. He exchanged a glance with Crimsonsoul and Master Godwind. They had heard about this boy; in the vast eastern cultivation world, there was only one Deva Realm expert who maintained the physical appearance of a child....
He was one of the five Deva Realm experts of the Starry Sky Dao Polarity Sect, Li Yuantian!
Frigidsect, Crimsonsoul and Master Godwind immediately clasped hands in formal greeting and said, “Greetings, Senior Li!”
The other Nascent Soul cultivators were shaken, and quickly followed suit.
Bai Xiaochun was standing off to the side, and immediately started to get nervous. This was his first time seeing a deva, and from the heaven-like pressure weighing down from him, it made it seem like the whole world was being crushed. Heart pounding, he didn’t even dare to look at him directly. He couldn’t help but marvel at how this boy, despite not being tall as Bai Xiaochun himself, was so incredible.
The boy looked at Bai Xiaochun with an enigmatic smile, but didn’t say anything to him. Then he waved his sleeve.
“Frigidsect, the three of you lead the way to your grand hall. I have an important message for you!”
Frigidsect, Crimsonsoul and Master Godwind looked very somber as they voiced their assent and then respectfully led the way. The Nascent Soul cultivators followed along with serious expressions on their faces. The entire River-Defying Sect fell into silence, and many people started to get nervous, wondering why the Starry Sky Dao Polarity Sect might have sent a deva.
Bai Xiaochun’s nervousness was mounting. For some reason, he got the feeling from the way the boy had looked at him that something strange was going on. After returning to his immortal's cave, he began to repair the damage done by the bolt of lightning, frequently looking over his shoulder at the summit of the mountain. Suddenly, he thought of something, and opened his bag of holding to check to see if the little turtle was still asleep. Upon finding that he was, he put him back in the place where he'd found him.
“That way,” he murmured to himself, “even if he suspects something happened after he wakes up, I can just pretend I don’t know what he's talking about.” Although he was pleased with himself for how he’d handled the situation, he couldn’t help but feel nervous about the arrival of the boy, and once again looked up in the direction of the grand hall.
In that very moment, the boy-like Li Yuantian was sitting down in the seat of honor in the grand hall on Mount River Defiance. Frigidsect, Crimsonsoul and Master Godwind stood respectfully off to the side, while the other Nascent Soul cultivators waited outside.
“It seems I'm connected by destiny to your River-Defying Sect,” the boy said coolly. “I was the one who slaughtered the majority of the Sky River Court before your arrival.” Frigidsect, Crimsonsoul and Master Godwind were shaken by those words.
“That’s why I was the one selected to come here today, to tell you about another of the rules in the Middle Reaches cultivation world.
“Every so often, all of the four great sects that exist downriver of the Starry Sky Dao Polarity Sect must send an important disciple or two upriver to be political hostages! [1. The practice of exchanging political hostages goes way back into Chinese history all the way to the Han Dynasty (206 BCE – 220 CE)]
“I'm here to take your hostages back with me to the Starry Sky Dao Polarity Sect.” The boy looked at Frigidsect, Crimsonsoul and Master Godwind, whose expressions flickered with surprise as they looked up at him.
“Hostages?” Although this was Frigidsect’s first time hearing of the arrangement, it wasn’t anything out of the ordinary. After all, the four great sects of the Middle Reaches were important parts of the Starry Sky Dao Polarity Sect, and were essentially like feudal vassals.
Master Godwind took a deep breath and said, “We’ll definitely pick our hostage candidates as quickly as possible!”
He was well aware that when a deva came with a request, it wasn’t something they could refuse.
“You don’t need to do anything,” the boy said calmly. “I’ve already made the decision for you. The main hostage will be Bai Xiaochun.” The hearts of the three patriarchs began to pound.
With that, the boy sent some divine sense sweeping out into the rest of the River-Defying Sect.
With the exception of the location where the true spirit was resting, which was a place he didn’t wish to disturb, the rest of the sect was like an open book to him, although apparently, he didn’t notice the monkey.
“Eee? There’s something special about that girl...!” A strange light flickered in the boy’s eyes, and he waved his hand, causing the image of a young woman to appear, seated cross-legged in meditation. That girl was none other than Gongsun Wan’er! “She’s going to be the other hostage! Go ahead and notify them, and also explain that they can take no more than five fellow disciples of your sect to act as their Dao protectors. The entire group will come with me to the Starry Sky Dao Polarity Sect to continue their cultivation.”
The three patriarchs were grumbling inwardly. The truth was, they didn’t care much about Gongsun Wan’er. Although she had respectable latent talent and potential, what they really cared about was Bai Xiaochun.
Master Godwind hesitated for a moment, and then said, “Senior--”
Before Master Godwind could finish speaking, the boy’s eyes turned cold and he interrupted, “Hmm? Planning to refuse?”
Instantly, Master Godwind turned extremely cold, almost as if he were being frozen. He couldn’t even speak a word.
Frigidsect quickly offered further explanation. “Senior, there’s something you might not be aware of. Although Bai Xiaochun is our junior patriarch, the truth is that he’s extremely naughty and mischievous, and definitely not the ideal candidate for a hostage. Senior, I'm just worried that he might cause problems for your honored sect.”
“That’s absolutely right, Senior,” Crimsonsoul said with a smile. He was also aware of how important Bai Xiaochun was to the River-Defying Sect. “Bai Xiaochun isn’t just naughty and mischievous, he loves concocting medicine. The downside to that is that he always causes huge problems, creating plagues and harming everyone in the area. Not even chickens or dogs can escape his tribulations. If he goes to the Starry Sky Dao Polarity Sect, I’m afraid he really might cause a big catastrophe....”
“None of those things will be problems,” the boy responded. “The majestic Starry Sky Dao Polarity Sect controls all of the eastern reaches, and leads the cultivation world on behalf of the Heavenspan Sea. Do you really think we can’t handle one Core Formation cultivator?
“Even if he were more naughty and mischievous than he is now, even if he caused worse disasters, do you really think he would bring the Starry Sky Dao Polarity Sect to its knees?!
“He likes concocting medicine? Well, in the Starry Sky Dao Polarity Sect, we have the best pill furnaces, the best medicinal plants, and the best concocting facilities. Whatever problems he has with concocting medicine, they can be solved there. Fear not! Bai Xiaochun might be a hostage, but at the same time, he will be a disciple of the Starry Sky Dao Polarity Sect!
“Very well, the matter is settled, and there will be no more discussion. Go. In three days, I will take your disciples back to the Starry Sky Dao Polarity Sect!” Clearly, the boy would brook no further argument. Waving his hand, he sent out a gentle light that carried Frigidsect, Crimsonsoul and Master Godwind out of the grand hall, after which the door slammed shut with a bang.
Outside the hall, Frigidsect, Crimsonsoul and Master Godwind looked at each other with grim expressions. Unfortunately, there was nothing they could do in this situation.
Master Godwind sighed and said, “Well, we don’t have much time. It won't be difficult to explain the matter to the girl, but as for Bai Xiaochun... Brother Frigidsect, why don’t you go talk to him first? We can go later to offer more explanations. We also need to think about which disciples to send with him as Dao protectors.”
Of course, Master Godwind was very worried about the whole thing. Bai Xiaochun was the Blood Ancestor, and if mishaps occurred after he left, the Blood Stream Division would be at a serious disadvantage.
“Well, at least he can take Dao protectors, right?” Crimsonsoul said through gritted teeth. “Even though he can only take people from his generation, they’ll at least be of some help. Whoever he wants to go with him will have no choice in the matter. I’ll explain everything to them!”
Frigidsect sighed. Frowning, he headed toward Bai Xiaochun’s immortal's cave, where he found the restless and antsy Bai Xiaochun, and then explained the situation to him.
Bai Xiaochun’s jaw dropped, and he stared at Frigidsect, his mind spinning. “Hostage? In the Starry Sky Dao Polarity Sect?”
He had read about political hostages in the ancient records, and knew that they always suffered all sorts of tragic and grievous fates. He was especially worried about going alone; being all by himself in a strange sect didn’t seem safe at all.
The River-Defying Sect was great! He had an incredibly high standing, lots of female disciples liked him, and people offered formal greetings to him wherever he went. The mere thought of going to the Starry Sky Dao Polarity Sect caused his vision to grow dim.
Yelping, he lurched forward and grabbed onto Frigidsect’s leg.
“Patriarch, I don’t wanna go!” he wailed, “I’ll miss you all too much! This is my home! Don’t make me go!
“I just made a heroic contribution to the sect! I... I'm the junior patriarch!
“For years now, I’ve always been ready to stand up for the sect during hard times. I saved my fellow disciples from the Luochen Clan, I made a name for myself in the Fallen Sword Abyss, I went undercover in the Blood Stream Sect! But my biggest contributions have been to the River-Defying Sect! Patriarch, I don’t wanna go!
“I can’t stand to part with all of you. I’ll miss my fellow disciples! Don’t make me go, please...! Have Shangguan Tianyou go instead! He’d be a great choice. He's heroic and confident and super handsome! Heaven and earth would weep if he doesn’t become the hostage. Or how about Song Que? The Starry Sky Dao Polarity Sect doesn’t have somebody like him, do they? So send him! Or what about Beihan Lie or Nine-Isles? They would be great choices! If not, then how about Chen Manyao. Send her....”
Frigidsect felt a headache coming on. Sighing, he looked down at Bai Xiaochun and softly said, “Xiaochun, if I had any choice in the matter, I definitely wouldn’t make you go.”
A tremor ran through Bai Xiaochun, and he looked up at Frigidsect, looking like he was about to cry.
“I really have to go?”
Frigidsect tousled Bai Xiaochun’s hair. A kind look appeared in his eye as he said, “Yes, you do. However, you can take some Dao protectors with you. Also, it won’t be for very long. You’ll be back here at home before you know it.”
Translator: Deathblade. Chinese language consultant: ASI a.k.a. Beerblade. Editor: GNE. Memes: Logan. Meme archives: Tocsin. Transcendent Patrons: Daoist Elder N, BLE, ttre208. AWE Glossary. Xianxia-inspired T-shirts.Previous Chapter Next Chapter