AST 850 - Marionette Sect, Nine Yang Marionette King
Qing Shui followed the waitress and slowly ascended to the upper floors. Along the way, he realized that the business model of the Octagon Inn was significantly different than the other inns he had visited. The lowest cultivation base of the waitresses was Xiantian and yet all of them were young and beautiful. Nevertheless, the waitresses were sufficient to satisfy the vanity and psychological needs of most martial warriors and wealthy merchants.
The architectural style and the atmosphere of the Octagon Inn was more or less similar to the other inns. However, Octagon Inn was a bit unique, in the sense that the waitresses assigned on each floor were different. The higher the floor level, the stronger the waitress would become and they would be progressively prettier than the previous floors.
As he climbed the floors slowly, he also noticed that each level was almost 70% occupied by patrons. Based on that alone, the profit of the Octagon Inn for one day would be immeasurable. Fortunately, the expenses on the food and utilities of the inn were considered modest. If they didn’t contribute part of the profits to the improvement of their service quality, it would be difficult to maintain their business in the long term.
The area of each floor had also become progressively smaller. The higher the floor level, the fewer the number the patrons would be. The number of patrons decreased considerably starting from the sixth floor. The seventh floor had fewer than hundred patrons and the eighth floor had less than twenty. On the ninth floor, there were only three people……...
“Perhaps some of them are inside the private rooms.” Qing Shui thought.
Qing Shui chose a room close to the corner where he could overlook the scenery outside from the windows. Moreover, he chose the room because it was significantly brighter than the other rooms.
“Please wait for a moment, sir. We will serve the dishes shortly. I will inform Miss Huang Wu and check on her schedule.” The waitress showed a smile before she left the room for her duties.
Feeling bored, Qing Shui decided to check around the room. The area of the living room was about a hundred square meters, where it had access to the bathroom, kitchen and two bedrooms. The entire room was filled with a refreshing air and there was no dust to be seen. The floors and the walls were all white, giving the room an impression of purity and holiness.
Knock knock knock!
“Come in!” Qing Shui commanded.
As the door opened, eight waitresses wearing neat uniforms entered in succession, each carrying eight smaller dishes on their trays. The dishes looked appetizing, with the delicious aroma filling the room within seconds.
Eight waitresses each with eight dishes, totalling to about 64 dishes altogether……….
Would he be able to finish everything? The staggering amount of dishes wasn’t strange at all when Qing Shui realized the amount of money he had paid for this room. After the waitresses had left, Qing Shui sat down in front of a long end table without touching the dishes. There were two pairs of chopsticks in front of the dishes as well.
After the time to burn a stick of incense had passed, Qing Shui finally picked up his chopsticks to begin his feast. Just when he was about to eat the food….
Knock knock knock!
Someone knocked on the door.
“Come in!” said Qing Shui as he put down his chopsticks.
The door opened and a came in a beautiful woman. Qing Shui could tell that she was Huang Wu simply by her aura. She seemed quite young despite her tall, seductive figure, which could not be overlooked even with a black stylish dress draping her body.
Her brows were curved like the sickle of a new moon and her lashes curled and elongated, which complemented her pretty eyes, as if she was smiling, albeit subtly. The straight bridge of her nose was the centerpiece of her delicate face and there was a hint of individuality on her pouty red lips, in contrast to her smooth skin which was as white as snow.
However, there was something else emitting from her body - a strange aura that felt quite forceful to him!
Her cultivation techniques were of the metal element!
“Are you not going to invite me to sit down?” The woman noticed Qing Shui staring at her but without a shred of excitement or eroticism. From the beginning, his expression was as calm as the serene waters, which ironically caused her heart to skip a beat.
She had a pleasant voice that could sooth the hearts of those who heard it. Realizing his manners, Qing Shui stood up and gave a warm smile as he said, “Please, sit down!”
Huang Wu was startled after she found herself developing an interest in this young man. She knew he was different from the first moment she saw him. Even though she couldn’t feel his true strength, she could still tell how strong he was based on her intuition.
Qing Shui was actually shocked as well. She was a Grade Five Martial Saint….. Which was the same as Di Chen. He also found it odd that a woman of such strength would work here as a hostess to entertain male guests.
“Miss, why do you choose to work here despite possessing such ability?” Qing Shui was curious. If she needed money, she could easily acquire it from the countless admirers in the city. Moreover, she might be someone with an influential status, otherwise she would not be able to stay here without any problems.
Maybe she had the support of a powerful force behind the Octagon Inn?
“Do you think I am shameless for doing so?” The woman asked softly as she smiled at him. However, Qing Shui was still unmoved by her charm.
“No, I don’t. There’s no difference between nobility nor humility in life. We are, however, all born in different classes,” Qing Shui replied as he shook his head gently.
“Then you are saying that I’m shameless.”
“I only said there’s no nobleness and lowliness in life. Perhaps you are looking down on everything you’ve done?” Qing Shui looked at the beautiful woman, yet he could never bring himself to be swayed by her appearance nor her behavior.
“Alright, let’s not talk about that anymore. Let’s talk about something more cheerful.” The woman beamed.
“Sure. Do you know the origins of the name ‘Sky City’?” asked Qing Shui without hesitation. He didn’t have much time, so naturally, he decided to retrieve as much relevant information as he could from her.
“Actually, there’s no clear explanation on that. Some say that the city occupies an extremely high ground, almost to the point of touching the sky. Thus, the ‘Sky City’ was adapted. Others say that there’s a small inner city located at the highest peak of the city, which is ironically known as the ‘Sky City’ as well. In the end, the entire city was renamed as the ‘Sky City’,” the woman said without rushing her words.
“This Sky City should be the same powerful city I was told about!” Qing Shui murmured, as if he was talking to himself.
Half an hour had passed. The woman didn’t intend to leave yet, so Qing Shui picked up the wine and poured a cup for her. Then he poured himself some as well.
“I see that you’re quite powerful. Have you ever thought about looking for a powerful advocate?” The pretty woman swivelled her cup for a while before pursing her lips to drink the wine.
Qing Shui picked up his cup and drank the wine as well. Then he lowered his head and squinted his eyes for a brief second. The woman couldn’t see his face clearly when he had lowered his head but if she did, she would have seen the coldness in his eyes. Qing Shui, however, maintained his smile and replied in a soft tone.
“You mean an advocate like you? You seem alright but not strong enough,” replied Qing Shui. His eyes seemed a little bit colder than earlier.
“Of course I’m not strong enough. But I can introduce you to a powerful force. If you are willing, you will get all the money, skills, medicinal pills and women of your choosing. How about it?”
“I might be inexperienced but I still have some knowledge about the powerful forces in the Central Continent. May I know what kind of ‘powerful force’ you meant earlier? At least you can tell me that, right?” said Qing Shui as he looked at the beautiful woman with slight anticipation.
“We are from the Marionette Sect,” the woman said in a calm tone while flashing a smile to Qing Shui.
“So the drug you slipped in was to nurture me as a marionette for your sect.” Qing Shui turned to the woman and locked his terrifying aura to suppress her movement.
“You are actually unaffected?” Her face turned pale as she stared at Qing Shui with a surprised expression.
Qing Shui knew exactly why she had approached him - she was not simply a woman who was employed to entertain guests but a woman to select marionettes for the Marionette Sect. Her goal was to find those with decent cultivation through a reliable network before marking her targets. Regardless how much those wealthy traders or merchants paid to see her, she would not entertain them, as they were unsuitable to become a marionette for her sect.
Qing Shui was no stranger to the term ‘marionette’. Marionettes were divided into various categories or realms. The lowest realm would be those of a walking corpse with high defenses refined from drugs and potions, unsusceptible to the sharp edge of a blade. However, this type of marionette would lack the basic intelligence of a human being, replaced with a basic instinct to attack until the brain or the heart had been struck or crushed. Marionettes of this type were immune to the sensation of pain from broken arms or legs. The power they could unleash was limited to 30% of their overall strength.
The next level of marionettes would maintain their basic yet elementary intelligence, as they would possess the basic instinct to evade deadly attacks. The power they could unleash would be limited to half of their overall strength.
As the level of the marionettes progressed, the limitation to their strength would decrease and they would be able to restore a progressive amount of intelligence. The highest level of marionettes were rumored to be different, as they could unleash power a few times stronger than their overall ability. Not only would they become increasingly stronger than a mighty demonic beast, they would behave like an ordinary human with a functioning intelligence capable of processing complex thoughts.
In any case, the acts of the Marionette Sect were still unbelievably terrifying. They could be considered an elite sect, much more formidable than those skilled in utilizing poison. The Marionette Sect was more or less similar to those sects that specialized in beast taming - a beast tamer’s goal was to tame demonic beasts, while the goal of the Marionette Sect was to control a human being. Demonic beasts were no exception to the Marionette Sect, albeit rare, as these beasts could become marionette beasts after a successful nurturing of their mind and body.
Moreover, marionettes have a time limit to function as they were intended. After a certain amount of time, marionettes must consume a special medicinal pill that allows the continuous control of their state of mind. In spite of that, a marionette of a higher level would be able to retaliate as they possessed a stronger state of mind but would not be able to dispel the control of a marionette master completely.
“Why did you target me?” Qing Shui observed the woman. She was as beautiful as a blooming flower but her heart was as venomous as a poisonous scorpion. Qing Shui would have never expected her to be such a woman from the first glance. Truly, one could never judge someone solely by their appearance!
“No matter. If I knew this would happen, I would have slipped a greater amount of drugs into your wine. I didn’t think you would possess such terrifying power. Why did we choose you? Because your body is very suitable to become the ‘Nine Yang Marionette King’. I have already contacted the Grand Elder. Soon the Old Ancestor will nurture you to become the strongest marionette king the world will ever know.” The woman spoke at a casual pace, undisturbed by Qing Shui’s demeanor.
“I can kill you easily right now, do you believe that?” Qing Shui looked at her with a perplexed expression, confused as to why the woman was still confident despite his threat.
“It’s too late now!” She shook her head and fled.
The door suddenly burst open, followed by an old man entering the room.
Qing Shui felt goosebumps as soon as he saw the abrupt appearance of the old man. All he could think of was to escape from this room as soon as possible. But before he could, the room suddenly felt like a torrid purgatory as he became increasingly uncomfortable. However, it was still bearable as the suffocating sensation was considerably weaker than that of the woman in the crystal coffin.
In addition, his spiritual energy had become remarkably stronger after the incident with the woman in the crystal coffin, which was why he was able to endure the suffocating force of his opponent despite his current strength.
And that begged the question: What was the highest power a Peak Martial Saint could possess?
The strength of ten stars was essentially an enlightenment towards the Martial Emperor but that was just it, an enlightenment. He couldn’t sense the power of this Grand Elder of the Marionette Sect but he could tell that he wasn’t a Martial Emperor. However, this old man was undoubtedly far stronger than Qing Shui currently was.
The Grand Elder of the Marionette Sect…. Seemed like in every supreme sect exists at least one extraordinary martial warrior. Only when Qing Shui had reached a higher platform did he realize there were other stronger existences in this world.
When he was a Xiantian warrior back then, all he could see was other significantly stronger Xiantian martial warriors. If he didn’t manage to reach a certain realm of cultivation, he would never cross his path with any powerful martial warriors at all. As he gained his power progressively, the stronger ones would begin to emerge, much to his chagrin. If he were to come here with the strength of a Xiantian, he would have never realized the existence of a stronger force, nor he would cross his path with them. Just like this Octagon Inn, he would never be able to ascend to the ninth floor, as that privilege would be stripped from him immediately.
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