AST 950 - Leaving, Eagle Jiao Beast, Follow The Trail
Now that Qing Shui had saved his life, the tears of gratitude weren’t enough to show how grateful Qin Zongheng was. The promise of standing by Qing Shui’s side through severe trials wasn’t a lie and the debt of gratitude would never be fully repaid. Weng Xue looked at Qing Shui with eyes full of tears, but with a sincere smile flashing across her face.
Even though Qin Zongheng could feel pain in his flesh, as well as his mind, Weng Xue was the one enduring the most excruciating pain in her heart - the suffering she had born on her shoulders was nothing short of exhausting. Because of that, Qin Zongheng was more than determined to persevere as long as he was still breathing. No matter how painful it was, all he had to do was to endure the pain with perseverance.
The purpose of saving Qin Zongheng’s life was more complex than one could imagine. Qin Zongheng was the son of Sky City’s City Lord. Sky City was extremely powerful, definitely much stronger than the Mu Clan and the mighty sect of the Godly Sword Clan.
If Qing Shui was right, there should be Grade Five Martial Emperors in Sky City. Cultivators of such strength would be comparable to the members of the Demon Gate. However, such powerful sects were known to extend their power by setting up sect branches all over the continent, allowing the sect members to harbor a superiority complex and a condescending attitude. Most people would be repulsed by the arrogance and egoistic nature of these sect members.
The Qin Clan was, of course, the strongest clan in Sky City. They had absolute power, as no one would dare provoke their wrath and no one would compete with them for the position of the strongest clan.
However, their absolute authority would only be effective within Sky City. The Central Continent was vast and wide, so most powerful sects would set up their power within a specific region. The stronger the sect became, the more they would gain exposure to the other regions, allowing the other sects to realize their power beyond their horizon. In spite of that, sects that were able to monopolize multiple regions were rare in the past several years.
Sure, most sects were competitive in nature and some would form an association to protect their position by combining powers - even if they were weak to begin with - to defeat the bigger and more powerful sects. One association would be able to contend with one powerful sect in most cases, thus securing the benefit of protecting their own clans with certainty.
Qin Zongheng now realized that Qing Shui was not an ordinary man. The physicians from the internal clans, alchemists and even the powerful cultivators from the aristocratic clans were not able to get rid of the ‘poisonous bug’ no matter how much they tried, yet Qing Shui was able to heal him completely. Judging by his medical skills alone, he would be able to climb to the top of the aristocratic clans in no time. If his medical skills were already impressive, then it wouldn’t be strange to think that his martial cultivation was extraordinary as well.
Qin Zongheng then turned to look at Weng Xue, the love of his life as well as his life savior. Although Qing Shui was the one who saved him, he would have surely died if not for Weng Xue’s acquaintance with Qing Shui.
“Little brother, it's late. Whatever it is, you must stay for the night” Weng Xue had developed a deeper friendship and indescribable kindness to Qing Shui. They had bonded a form of love much closer to that of family.
Weng Xue adjusted Qing Shui’s collar and said, “It's almost time for dinner. You are not allowed to go under any circumstances, you hear?”
Qin Zongheng was exploding with happiness as he looked at Qing Shui and said, “We will have a drink tonight, dear brother. I know you are busy but surely you mustn't worry your elder sister too much.”
Using Weng Xue’s name to hold back Qing Shui was quite effective.
“Then I'll stay for the night!”
“Hmph, don't blame me for not treating you well as an older sister. This is your home, now and forever will be,” Weng Xue shot an angry look at Qing Shui, as she softly scoffed.
“Yes, yes. I’m wrong,” Qing Shui quickly replied.
Qin Zongheng and Weng Xue were unexpectedly different than he had imagined. Even though both of them had a big heart, they were never ones to show their emotions openly and easily. However, Qing Shui could clearly tell that they were sincerely happy through their expression right now. Their happiness emanated from the bottom of their hearts, a genuine feeling shown to the man they called as their little brother.
“Come, let me raise a cup to you. Thanks to you for saving me, brother,” Qin Zongheng stood up with a wine cup raised in the air, as he spoke with a serious tone.
“Brother Qin is too kind. Let me raise my cup for you!”
“This won't do. I must raise this cup in honor for you!” Qin Zongheng raised his cup even more adamantly, insisting with a determination as solid as steel.
“Little brother, let him have it. I should raise my cup too, in honor of your help in saving my husband.” Weng Xue raised her cup with a brilliant grin, as she said in a serious tone. With the cup raised to the air, she gulped it all without a drop left.
Qing Shui watched as Qin Zongheng drank his wine as well, so he decided to drink without constraint and enjoy his time with them for the night.
“I will raise this cup for Big Sister and Brother Qin then. Congratulations to Brother Qin for recovering from the poison. I wish dear sister and Brother Qin a happy life with lots of prosperity.” And with that, Qing Shui raised his cup and drank the wine!
The couple laughed merrily and joined in again. Weng Xue raised her cup and smiled. “You too, little brother. Here's to having your wish fulfilled. Cheers!”
The Three of them sat down and began chatting as they ate their dinner. It was at that moment that Qing Shui felt them becoming closer, as though they were true brothers and a family of genuine love and bonds. Perhaps it was true - real friendships could be born through countless adversities and misfortunes.
“Qing Shui, tell me. What sort of relationship do you have with He`er currently?” Weng Xue asked, as she looked at Qing Shui slowly. She continued after seeing a calm expression on his face, “That girl has never praised anyone in her whole life, but she seems to praise you quite a lot.”
“I will not lie to you. She and I, well, if everything goes according to plan, she is to become my wife in the future,” Qing Shui replied with an awkward smile.
Weng Xue was surprised to hear those words, but smiled nonetheless, “You should put more effort to that. I'm hopeful that one day your wish will come true.”
Qin Zongheng made note of Qing Shui’s plan silently. His wife was from the Hundred Flowers Valley and now Qing Shui would be marrying another woman from the Hundred Flowers Valley as well and on top of that, she was a valley head too. With that, he knew what he should do in the future. The Sky Cloud Inn was actually a business belonging to Weng Xue after all.
“Qing Shui, be careful on your journey. If you ever come back to the Central Continent, you must return to see us.” Weng Xue held her son in her arms, as she bid farewell to Qing Shui.
“Take care. If there’s anything at all, please don’t hesitate to contact us,” said Qin Zongheng while he took his daughter in his arms.
The little kids called out to Qing Shui cheerfully.
“I definitely will. We will see each other again.” Qing Shui smiled waved goodbye, as he jumped onto his Fire Bird.
Weng Xue waved back at Qing Shui, as he flew away. She and Qin Zongheng knew that Qing Shui meant to meet them again at the ancient ruins three years from now.
“He is so mysterious!” Qin Zongheng said, as he watched Qing Shui slowly disappearing into the horizon.
“It seems like He`er likes him. I didn’t think he would become your savior the moment I met him, you know.” Weng Xue sighed with emotion, as she reminisced her first meeting with the young man.
“To be exact, Xue`er is my savior. Meeting you was the greatest happiness in my life,” Qin Zongheng said, as he glanced at his wife lovingly.
“Don’t say such things here, the kids are listening.” Weng Xue was flushed in red; it was a blush of happiness and excitement. Qin Zongheng had recovered and so her worries had been lifted. She felt quite at ease as she stood beside her recovered husband.
After that, both of them held their children and rode the Cloud Crane towards Sky City. They took a long journey to send Qing Shui off, a distance away from Sky City.
After their farewells, Qing Shui headed to the sky and flew far away. As for the Marionette Sect, he decided not to confront them for now. He wasn’t in a hurry to look for them currently, so he decided he should go back home for now.
The Marionette Sect had chosen to let him go before this. But if they were sensible enough, they would not act rashly and blindly on their next move, otherwise they would be put at a disadvantage.
There was another thing that had made Qing Shui elated inside the Realm of the Violet Jade Immortal. He initially thought that the Marrow Nibbling Golden Silkworm that he had cultivated with his blood and essence would affect him tremendously, in a sense that he would be devitalized, slowing the rate of advancement to his power or stagnating his overall improvements and so forth.
But the silkworm had managed to stay inside the Realm of the Violet Jade Immortal for about three months and within this period, the Marrow Nibbling Golden Silkworm dwelling inside the pool of blood and essence, did not once affect Qing Shui negatively. Even though the silkworm had absorbed an amount of energy from the pool, he did not feel like he had lost anything at all.
Because of that, Qing Shui felt relieved. Although he had suspected that the silkworm would affect his martial cultivation, he still took it in and cultivated the silkworm. The amount of blood and essence the silkworm could absorb was limited, especially after it had grown into an adult.
Moreover, he was still puzzled why his Central Palace (also known as the Heavenly Palace) had suddenly turned into a blood and essence pool. Perhaps that had something to do with the silkworm. His body was driven to the point of extreme exhaustion after he had treated Qin Zongheng’s body. Whether that was a coincidence or the silkworm’s fault, it had definitely spurred an odd change to his body.
That wasn’t important anymore. Ultimately, he had treated it as a coincidence to get that matter off his mind.
And with that, the Upper, Middle and Lower Dantian were all fully developed. The Lower Dantian had also formed a core, as well as the core of Nature Energy, the core of State of Immovable as Mountains and the core of Emperor’s Qi.
The Central Palace had experienced another change this time, even after expanding beyond the proximity of the [Heavenly Dan]. However, the Central Palace was, in essence, the precedence for the blood flow and bones. This time, it may be nothing more than a normal breakthrough.
In spite of everything, Qing Shui was still confused about his current cultivation realm - he didn’t know which level he had reached. Nevertheless, he was quite fond of the pool of blood and essence, which had increased his strength by about ten stars, as well as strengthening his blood and bones by several times.
Not only had he saved Qin Zongheng, he had achieved a bunch of great benefits for himself too. At the very least, he had established a friendship with Qin Zongheng, which meant that future cooperation between them both had been made possible. After all, the news of his successful effort to cure Qin Zongheng would travel throughout Sky City, including the important figures and the higher-ups. The elders would not object to the idea of having Qing Shui as their acquaintance.
The Demon Gate was still far away, yet the Marionette Sect was already here. Qing Shui couldn’t quite understand whether the Marionette Sect was trying to expand their influence or create more places to conceal their operations, but he knew that they would not stand a chance against him, even if they were to dispatch the strongest members of the sect to pursue him.
However, these people would not try anything, unless it concerned the matters of annihilating an entire sect.
In any case, Qing Shui wasn’t too worried. He had the capability to flee at any given time. Moreover, he had the Marrow Nibbling Golden Silkworm, which would become a terrifying trump card within these next few days.
No one could stop him from going forward!
The Fire Bird was extremely fast, so there was no rush for Qing Shui to use the Nine Continent Steps for now. Qing Shui was currently all alone in this journey. He traveled continuously until the last few minutes of the day before using the Nine Continent Steps twice, immediately traversing to the next day. As usual, he would spend six hours inside the Realm of the Violet Jade Immortal until the sky had become bright again.
He slept and ate his food inside the Realm of the Violet Jade Immortal, so when the next morning arrived, he woke up and traveled towards his intended direction immediately.
However, less than two hours into his journey, he suddenly felt like he was being followed.
“Very reckless.” Qing Shui shook his head. He didn’t have to turn around to see who they were, because he knew he was being followed by the members of the Marionette Sect.
Without a shred of fear in his eyes, he allowed Fire Bird to maintain a steady speed as they flew forward. He pretended that he hadn’t sensed them and looked at the surroundings nonchalantly - at the rivers below and the mountains ahead.
He continued on until afternoon when he was about to cross the border of Sky City. Beyond the border was a land of wilderness that stretched far away, a common sight for most cities. Once he had crossed to the other side, he knew the pursuers would make their move.
Before he was able to cross 300 li from the outskirts of the city, Qing Shui immediately stopped moving and stood on the back of the Fire Bird. Then, a few flying beasts appeared and approached from behind, as well as from both sides.
If Fire Bird had flown through the wilderness with its usual speed, he would have completely evaded his pursuers. However, he decided against fleeing and turned to face his opponents. Qing Shui was motionless, as he looked at the pursuers with cold eyes.
Three giant Eagle Jiao Beasts with large eagle bodies attached to heads of the ferocious Jiao with 100 meter wide expanded wings were approaching quickly. Behind each of the demonic beasts stood two elderly men - which meant that Qing Shui was followed by exactly six pursuers.
“We couldn’t touch you when you were protected by the Qin Clan in Sky City. But now that you’re traveling alone, your fate is sealed. This is what you get for offending our Marionette Sect. We will do whatever it takes to turn you into a marionette,” a familiar voice rang through Qing Shui’s ears.
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