A newborn calf fears not the tiger… Many words that wished to be said converged into wistful sighs of admiration.
A bald youth’s gaze roamed, and he engraved Xu Yangyi’s features into his heart. This… is a total offense against the Ming Clan… Even if each side and the current cultivation system maintains the frail and complicated surface peace, the slaying of a God Ming successor… He’s sure got guts!
When he returns… maybe he’ll be immediately met with the Ming Clan’s warrant. A God Ming successor has been slain, and his head publicly displayed. This is already striking the Ming Clan’s face and honor…
Countless thoughts circulated about at the bottom of everyone’s mind. However, there wasn’t anyone who knew that THIS was actually Xu Yangyi’s declaration of war against Daomaster Floatingcloud! Regardless of martial strength, what mattered was bravery and wisdom!
You think… a supreme Dao Master like you can seize every key moment? In certain times and certain places, even a Qi Condensation cultivator like me can guide an immortal’s path as well!
Daomaster Floatingcloud’s gaze skimmed over Xu Yangyi, and he uttered, “Sixteenth graduation? Three years ago, the paragon was surnamed Chu, the grandson of Deputy Minister Chu Tianyi.” His sight fell on top of the origin crystal, and his heart thrashed in pain. In the same vein… he dared not risk it! One who had no fear of the thousand cuts would dare to unhorse an emperor. The situation could be explained in such a way. 
Who didn’t want a demon core? Even they, the Core Formation masters, were beholden to unparalleled temptation. It was very likely that this crystal would allow them to advance to the next stage! To the extent that it would lead to the Grand Dao of Nascent Soul! However… right now, this origin crystal had transformed into an atom bomb, grasped in the hand of a madman.
“That not right.” Earthcleaver’s voice rang out almost simultaneously, “The Vermilion Snow Incident’s verdict was rendered by myself. The paragon is indeed young friend Xu.”
How dare you! The appearance of Floatingcloud’s manifestation was as easy as clouds and gentle like wind, yet his heart blazed with a towering fury! But oddly, the object of his wrath wasn’t Xu Yangyi. Rather, it was Earthcleaver! Few knew of his Black Kill Order, and moreover, no one was aware that Thousandedge has received the Black Kill Order as the branch master of Mingshui Province’s Featherwood Guard!
Already for many ages, he had stood lofty and remote. In his impression, if he was going to crush Xu Yangyi to death, it was merely a question of extending a finger. What was troublesome was the checks and balances of other Core Formation masters. In case the Emperor Armament was learned of, the consequences would be difficult to imagine!
Without so much as a sound or trace, he had erased the matter of that year. Taking away the Emperor Armament was the primary task at hand. As for the possessor of the Emperor Armament… what of them?
Upon hearing the name Xu Yangyi, Floatingcloud’s heart had jumped. Nonetheless, over the course of several centuries of cultivation, he was no longer startled by great billows. Yet he absolutely didn’t expect that he would possibly chance upon Xu Yangyi here! Originally, he had even forgotten the other’s appearance. Furthermore, he didn’t expect that Xu Yangyi would have the audacity to introduce himself at such a time!
Xu Yangyi maintained a posture of cupped hands, simply not daring to hold a sliver of distraction in his heart as he exerted his full strength to resist the Core Formation avatars’ spiritual pressures. The cold sweat on his forehead dripped in silence. He, too, was making a gamble!
He was betting on Cultivation Civilization, that even a top figure was also restricted to an extent! This was the source of all the world's matters and all living things. Not to mention Core Formation cultivators, since humanity’s emergence to this day, struggle and balance were frequent companions. Over several millennia, not once had this changed. Everyone had heard of the tale of the three Buddhist monks that had no water to drink. 
His gamble was correct. People’s hearts were the hardest thing to fathom. Earthcleaver’s first words didn’t honor Floatingcloud! How could such an opportunity, the presence of the cultivation court’s Vice President Earthcleaver, NOT be possibly grasped? Even if the matter stood in the face of a Core Formation master’s incarnation!
“Why haven’t I heard about this?” Floatingcloud said, seemingly leisured. He began to narrow his eyes and imperceptibly glanced at the apparently respectful Xu Yangyi.
“This was relayed to me by your personal secretary. How is it…” Earthcleaver swept an eye over Floatingcloud’s manifestation. “That the Fellow Daoist could’ve possibly misreported the scene?”
Floatingcloud acted as if he was pricked by a needle and pursed his lips, uttering not another word. He was unsure of Xu Yangyi’s thoughts! Does he know I issued the Black Kill Order? Does he not?
This was merely of Xu Yangyi’s unintentional doing. Presently, everyone knew he was still alive, so the Vermilion Snow Incident would inevitably be raised! This was to lift siege for himself, the avoidance of danger!
Is he aware? Floatingcloud softly squeezed both of his hands behind his back. A provocation. This was a provocation against his prestige, that of a Dao Master’s!
If… Earthcleaver wasn’t here, and granted that he kneaded Xu Yangyi to death with his fingers, he, too, had his owns methods of quelling this affair! At most, he’d have to pay some price! Yet the crux of the matter was… that Earthcleaver had actually rushed over with his incarnation in person! The Cultivation Court’s gaze was fixed the tightest on Core Formation cultivators!
Floatingcloud almost dared not think of the proceeding fine amount that awaited him if he crushed Xu Yangyi to death in public! It was enough to bring fright to his heart and make his flesh crawl! In particular… he didn’t risk touching the demon core. In case Xu Yangyi truly dared to force the demon core to self-destruct, whoever approached first would be out of luck. Death would not come, but there would be grievous injury. Murmuring to himself for a brief moment, he said indifferently, “I seem to have some impression.”
“This truly was one of God Ming’s successors in echelon, ranked eighteen.” Earthcleaver’s gaze casually brushed over the head in Xu Yangyi’s hand, and he said no more.
“Perfect.” Daomaster Floatingcloud’s avatar chuckled, “Then, it’ll be recorded as a great merit.”
“Nonetheless, our young friend is still required to account for today’s matter with the Cultivation Court.”
“Thank you, Senior.” Xu Yangyi cupped his hands, not meeting everyone’s gazes and clenching his teeth as he stored the demon core in the storage ring—the ring that was on God Ming’s middle finger. He cupped his fist respectfully and said, “Junior has another matter I wish to report to Senior.”
“Speak.” The final unknown figure spoke.
“Yes, that year when Junior seized the paragonship, I once promised to join the Featherwood Guard. But because of my unexpected disappearance of three years…”
“I have already recorded that day’s report on file. According to the ‘Cultivators and Cultivation Corporation’s code of conduct’, after five years, the contract may be nullified.” Earthcleaver interrupted Xu Yangyi’s speech and said, “Besides, young friend can enter Mingshui Province’s Featherwood Guard. The matter of the Four Great Joint Pools has already shocked the human world. Young friend, as the first to bury funeral dolls, the origin of this evil, you have the duty to actively make reparations in concert with the regional government.” 
“Yes!” Xu Yangyi immediately gave his response, his voice clear. He glanced imperceptibly at Daomaster Floatingcloud’s manifestation.
Checkmate! Even with Floatingcloud’s self-restraint, his face twitched at this moment. Power was martial strength, yet this was in no way confined to just martial strength! Courage, boldness, and wisdom were likewise a kind of power! There was no division between former or latter!
This was a checkmate… This insect had the impertinence to checkmate him here! Floatingcloud’s hand was already behind him, wringing with a crackle. After the blooming of the Red Spider Lily, he had never expected that events would unfold so far that he would be fiercely bitten by this insect!
From now on, everyone would know that Xu Yangyi was at a Featherwood Guard branch! Here onwards… everyone would know he was a person responded to by Earthcleaver! From this day forth… this person… would leave a faint vestige in the hearts of three Core Formation cultivators. Although it was light, it existed!
He was all too understanding of a Core Formation master’s position. In case Xu Yangyi died, it was the Cultivation Court that compiled cultivator death statistics! After reported, and as long as Earthcleaver was seen with so much as a furrow on his brows, then he might quip, “How did he die?” or perhaps, “Wasn’t he at Mingshui Province’s Featherwood Guard?”
Immediately, there would be a thousand Foundation Establishment cultivators rummaging about like they were turning over the ground for this matter! Right away, a Qi Condensation insect’s death would transform into a confrontation from two great Core Formation Dao Masters! It would turn into a showdown—he, Floatingcloud, and the Cultivation Court’s Skybearer and Earthcleaver, two cultivators at the Great Circle of Core Formation! He understood Skybearer even better… the Chinese government’s deathsworn who absolutely wouldn’t grant him a shred of respect!
This bastard… Floatingcloud gently gritted his teeth, his gaze coldly sweeping over the seemingly deferential Xu Yangyi. In his heart, a feeling of disgust became even heavier. It practically made him… want to vomit!
On this day, Jadewave had fallen. On this day, Earthcleaver had come, and on this day, Xu Yangyi had introduced himself. On this day, he had spoken about the Featherwood Guard’s promise from three years ago!
There wasn’t a sliver’s relation between the Featherwood Guard’s promise and Daomaster Floatingcloud! However, if Xu Yangyi entered Mingshui Province’s Featherwood Guard, there existed a great connection!
Mingshui Province’s Branchmaster Thousandedge… had taken on Daomaster Floatingcloud’s own Black Kill Order. In this case, how was Xu Yangyi supposed to be even killed? Dared to be killed?
If everything was due to the other’s machinations… Floatingcloud’s manifestation eyed Xu Yangyi deeply. The other truly could be praised as having courage and wisdom, bravery and intelligence in spades! Floatingcloud switched gears, thinking that even if he was standing in the other’s position, perhaps he wouldn’t be able to accomplish such an insane matter. “It’s yours… Junior…” He sucked in deeply and uttered not another word.
The gazes of Earthcleaver and the unknown avatar condensed on Xu Yangyi’s body at this moment. After a while, Earthcleaver sighed with extreme unwillingness, “Young friend, since the origin crystal has already acknowledged a master, you may stow it and leave. Leave the mountain on your own and go to the Featherwood Guard to report in within a week.”
“However, a man should know of his own contentment. Should you act frivolously, destiny shall taketh. The items on God Ming’s person are your spoils of war. As for the other items…”
Anyone could hear the pain in his words. This was a Core Formation origin crystal… and like so… it had been taken away by a Qi Condensation cultivator! A cruel squandering of a heavenly object… too awful of a reckless waste!
Earthcleaver’s voice timely stopped, and Xu Yangyi tactfully cupped his hands in understanding. “Junior is not lost on this.”
“Good.” Two voices echoed out simultaneously. No one had taken note that the word “good” had only been said by two people. Floatingcloud’s manifestation didn’t say a word.
“I hold no interest in this.” Several seconds later, Floatingcloud’s image said slowly, “Since the two of you are interested, then I shall not be keeping you company.” The blazing fury in his heart arched upward in flames. He feared that if he wasn’t careful, he would explode! Currently… he wanted, awfully desired, to squish this repulsive insect to death. Nonetheless, he couldn’t act!
He couldn’t take action, couldn’t stay, and couldn’t look on. Such a feeling caused him, seated high for over a century, to harbor an incomparable wrath in his heart. It appeared to be a superficial introduction, but it was a true checkmate! It forced his esteemed self, who had issued the Black Kill Order, to the edge of a cliff!
If I can’t kill, then I can only stay as I am! I still need support! Floatingcloud ruthlessly twisted his gums. How many years… how many years had it been since he experienced this feeling of sullenness? Maybe the other was aware or perhaps he wasn’t, but this was virtually a ferocious slap to him!
His silhouette slowly faded away. As he departed, he seemed to glance at Xu Yangyi with deep meaning. Xu Yangyi was still deferential as ever, yet this appearance rendered him incapable of restraining a cold snort.
Very good… Kid… you’ve got guts… This time, on this day, favor stands on your side, as well as Earthcleaver, that old monster. The benefits of checks and balances, the influence of equilibrium, and likewise the contest of interests between Core Formation masters… Today, I, a Dao Master, will let you off the hook… but there are few in this world that can force me to eat such defeat. You better savor the time you’re still alive. Enjoy it well… In five years at most, the item in your hand is bound to end up in mine.
Floatingcloud’s silhouette vanished, and Xu Yangyi let out a heavy sigh. His back was already drenched in a cold sweat. Just now, there wasn’t clashing of spiritual force whatsoever. What did exist was merely a game of words. A contest of courage, a match of wits. Now, this was a genuine battle of tongues. Each word had been pondered over since his meeting with Chu Zhaonan.
Earthcleaver’s unexpected arrival made his stake a few margins more generous. It was this that forced Floatingcloud to silently retreat. A wordless withdrawal where no action was dared. Xu Yangyi clenched the demon core in his hand. This was his true ace. Once Floatingcloud arrived, to the extent of a god’s descent… this demon core was his trump! A thousand-year-old demon, a Core Formation detonation. He was convinced that even if Earthcleaver hadn’t come today, then Floatingcloud would’ve let him walk away! He would always advance, never lowering his head!
“But…” Xu Yangyi sneered as he looked towards the direction of Floatingcloud’s departure. “You’ll regret it… very soon...”
“Maybe you want to settle this as soon as possible and then make me disappear without so much as a word, right?”
“I.” He clenched his fist and licked his lips. “Won’t give you a chance like that…”
“Even if you’re Core Formation today, in the future… why can’t I achieve Core Formation?!”
“When the time comes… we’ll slowly figure things out then…”
1. “One who fears not the thousands cut will dare to unhorse an emperor.” Chinese idiom. Thousand cuts refers to ancient Chinese punishment. Gist of the idiom is “For someone without fear, there is no obstacle that cannot be surmounted”.
3. First to bury funeral dolls. Chinese idiom for “origin of evil” or “the root of the cause”. I am actually unsure if I did my research correctly here, but from what I found, Chinese people would bury their dead with doll made from paper/pottery. The evil part of this refers to the first person who used a doll to stuff the mouth of a living person (to kill them) and then buried them.