“Is there a Featherwood Guard branch here?”
“You, no, sir, are you a person of the Featherwood Guard?” Dazed for a second, the young girl’s tone suddenly raised a pitch, her voice stuttering, “M-May I ask if sir i-is a r-registered member?”
Xu Yangyi glanced curiously at her. “No.”
The young girl’s and hen’s expressions immediately dimmed. The youth behind the tree gently sighed in relief. Xu Yangyi narrowed his eyes and looked over at the highway. “They’re specially appointed to me. I don’t have to go to them.”
“S-Specially appointed?!” In the following second, three surprised voices cried out from behind him.
Xu Yangyi stowed his gaze and looked towards the wolf-demon and asked, “If there’s nothing else, take me into the city and buy me a ticket to get to Tanshan City.”
“Sure!” The wolf-demon instantly responded, the radiance of his eyes beginning to twinkle.
“Not necessary!” Before the wolf-demon’s voice even fell, the young girl’s voice subsequently echoed out, “Our Bai County doesn’t have a branch, b-but my clan can help you with contacting the Featherwood Guard! Sir might not know, but according to our newest order, any cultivator that has newly joined the Featherwood Guard has to go to a branch to enroll. The branch must be notified first in advance! After a cultivator undergoes an identity check, they can join!”
Xu Yangyi faintly knitted his brows. “When was this order issued?”
“Three years ago!” The girl’s complexion was fairly flushed, and she stifled the excitement within her heart. “Three years ago, Fengyi City’s Vermilion Snow Incident became the first major event in fifty years! Does sir not know about Vermilion Snow? That’s that old silver nine-tailed fox demon! An old monster that ranks ninth on the Heavenly Demon Ranking!”
None had seen it, but Xu Yangyi’s hand in his pocket clenched fiercely. Three years ago? Fengyi City’s Vermilion Snow Incident?
“Can you be more specific?” He felt his heart speed up, yet he asked this question with a steady and composed face.
“This matter caused a massive uproar.” The young girl inhaled deeply and followed up, “Three years ago, the famous peak powers of the cultivation world, at the Heavens Law Graduation Commencement… Sir, you know about Heavens Law, right?” The cultivation world’s most prestigious school! The graduating students from there and we fringe cultivators aren’t the same. I’m unaware how many organizations are waiting with reddened eyes to hire them! If it’s the paragon of a graduation… Tsk, tsk… In all of China, there’s only so many that they number less than the amount of fingers and toes a person has. The treatment each paragon gets is enough to provide for a small cultivation clan!”
The young girl spoke with incomparable excitement as if she was a paragon, however, she didn’t pay attention to Xu Yangyi’s face. She suddenly stopped and coughed dryly, awkwardly saying, “Sorry… sir… I got off topic, you won’t take offense, right?”
In her eyes, Xu Yangyi faintly lowered his head and mumbled to himself. She believed the other disliked her verbosity, yet she simply couldn’t be aware that the present Xu Yangyi was filled with complex feelings.
“Continue.” He grabbed at his pocket out of habit, yet didn’t feel a cigarette.
“It’s like this, in that graduation, Heavens Law’s system wasn’t perfect enough, and Vermilion Snow blood-sacrificed over 7,000 people from Nantong Province’s cultivation clans and even eight Foundation Establishment seniors! I heard that battle brought forth rivers of blood. Not a single person came out alive!”
Xu Yangyi faintly sighed and chuckled. But there were… There were two people. In the end, two people had come out alive...
He and Chu Zhaonan who he had saved.
“Is Vermilion Snow still alive?”
“Of course!” The young girl nodded her head in trepidation. “But, she vanished. The Core Formation masters tried to track her down but couldn’t discover her whereabouts. Right now, she’s already rank one on the Heavenly Demon Ranking! Her bounty is 12 billion USD!”
“Heh…” Xu Yangyi raised his head to look at the sky and allowed the rain to strike his face. The cold rain brought with it a trace of the summer night chill, yet a killing intent like roiling fire had emerged in his heart.
You still haven’t died. That really is… fantastic. If you died at the hands of a Dao Master, wouldn’t it be too convenient for you? How could the oath I promised to the eight Seniors be completed?
His gaze turned somewhat cold. “Did no one ask about that graduation’s paragon?”
“Of course there were!” The young girl didn’t know why, but she felt fairly chilly. It should’ve been a mistake, right? She shivered and laughed, “The paragon of that graduation, Chu Zhaonan, made it out alive! He was the only person to survive! He has a position in the Featherwood Guard right now!”
Xu Yangyi’s gaze suddenly flared, but the fire within faded away just as quickly. Upon hearing this, he was already certain. Zhuangzi dreamt of a butterfly, and with a single dream, three years had passed. After he entered the spatial crack, three years had surprisingly gone by in the outside world! 
How many people still remembered those eight cultivators from back then?! How many people still remembered the scene of legions of people resisting an old half-step Core Formation demon together? But moreover, they wouldn’t remember… that there was a paragon who had defeated the A4 Chu Zhaonan who possessed Gun Kata, the true number one.
Heavens Law had to give everyone a statement… He himself was in a dream for three years, so they could only make Chu Zhaonan first place. That was good. There was still an acquaintance worthy of his regard who had survived… from that hell of mountains of corpses and seas of blood…
“But it’s weird. Mr. Chu has never said himself to be number one in front of other people. Even at the First Place Bestowal Ceremony, he didn’t participate in the use of the paragon’s title…” The young girl said pensively, “Last year, in order for Heavens Law to rebuild the Fengyi City branch’s prestige, they invited paragons from the past ten years to return and participate, but he didn’t go…”
Xu Yangyi laughed. It should’ve been like so. How could such a prideful person, who hadn’t truly defeated him, possibly want first place, which was the same as charity?
“Is he… doing well right now?” he questioned indifferently.
“Of course! He’s awesome! He’s the Featherwood Guard’s youngest legion commander! Although there are only fifty cultivation legions, he’s a legion commander! There are only 200 legion commanders officially recognized by the Featherwood Guard! There has to be over 300,000 cultivators that want to join a corp of registered cultivators!” The young girl’s face flushed again, and she pursed her lips, yet she was simply incapable of masking the admiration on her face.
Xu Yangyi laughed as he looked at her. “Do you really like him?”
“...He’s handsome, he’s tall, his cultivation is high, and his family background is good, too…” Two dimples appeared on the young girl’s face, and she shyly buried her head. “Anyways, I’m just wishing…”
“Lead the way.” Xu Yangyi nodded. “Let’s go to your cultivation territory, and you can help me contact the Featherwood Guard.”
“No problems!” The young girl immediately answered enthusiastically, “My clan is one of three major clans in Bai County! I guarantee we’ll handover your report with the fastest speed, sir!”
Xu Yangyi laughed and raised his chin towards the young girl. “Clan? You have a clan?”
“Of course!” The young girl stuck her chest out with a blush on her face. “Bai County’s Zhou Clan! You can just ask around; there’s no one in Bai County’s cultivation world that doesn’t know us!”
“Moreover, Young Mistress Tingting is the Zhou Clan’s only girl!” The hen suddenly added in excitement.
Xu Yangyi truly laughed in happiness this time. This was because he remembered the young girl had just said that Bai County only had three clans. There were only three clans, and the Zhou Clan was the third “major” clan.
It was worth pondering. As Xu Yangyi saw the half-beaten-up BYD parked at the side of the road, he felt that there was a strong possibility that his guess was fact. 
“P-Please…” The young girl helped open the car door for him somewhat awkwardly and laughed hollowly, “A cultivation clan can’t compare to some major powers. A great majority of conditions are quite difficult…”
Xu Yangyi smiled and sat in the backseat, closing his eyes to recuperate.
He wouldn’t expose this proud young girl. Originally, when he stood in the Unrivaled Beneath the Heavens Arena, it hardly wasn’t an understatement to say that some of the province’s peak cultivation clans could rival a province in wealth. To now say that a great majority of some cultivation clans’ circumstances were quite difficult was insisting to gild one’s face with gold… 
Then just gild it.
Bai County wasn’t large, and as a county-level city it was somewhat greater in comparison to normal counties. But when put next to a provincial capital like Fengyi, it was so small it didn’t hold the least bit radiance to a star.
Currently, it was already late at night. If this was Fengyi City, the streets would be congested with heavy traffic at the moment. It could even be said to be a time where some owls were lively with high spirits. However, in Bai County, not to even mention peddlers at the roadside who hadn’t opened their doors for business early, even the number of pedestrians on the street were few. In the rain, hazy yellow street lights reflected the city’s meager silhouette and also the signboard characters hung slanted on a small five-story building that said ‘Zhou Clan Dojo’.
Although he had already prepared for the worst, Xu Yangyi hadn’t expected that Bai County’s third ‘major’ clan would still exceed his anticipations.
It was an alley with a shabby building pressed down on boths sides by walls. The middle road was approximately two meters wide, and cars couldn’t even go in. If one didn’t raise their head, there was no way they would expect a dojo was here.
Evidently, with the facts laid out in front of them, the young girl’s gilding came to a rattling stop. She gently coughed and stammered, “The outside doesn’t look that good, but the inside is pretty nice… For the most part, the circumstances of cultivation clans are quite hard these days…”
Xu Yangyi laughed and nodded, walking inside with the young girl.
The Zhou Clan Dojo was on the top floor, and the inside was indeed better-looking than the outside. The floors were crafted from a kind of real wood that was both soft and richly flexible. A banner that said ‘Zhou Clan’s Century Taiji Dao Sanctum’ was dazzlingly drawn out at the center. Xu Yangyi looked around and asked, “Where’s your family?”
“I’m the sanctum master...” The young girl coughed a bit and said somewhat unnaturally, “I-I’m Zhou Tingting. My parents passed away a long time ago. Although our dojo looks ordinary, this place is one of very few places in Bai County that’s rich in qi…”
Xu Yangyi finally realized the reason why the other had become so enthusiastic when she’d heard that he was a registered cultivator of the Featherwood Guard.
He didn’t know if the Zhou Clan was an orthodox cultivation clan. However, even if it was, the clan’s inherited Dao legacies were in all likelihood backwater methods, something that all of China’s cultivation society refused to recognize. Not to even mention a Foundation Establishment Senior, perhaps they hadn’t even produced a single middle Qi Condensation cultivator. They could be classified as the lowest caste of marginalized cultivators.
On one account, they couldn’t withstand the apex powers one bit, but on the flipside, they were surely stronger than ordinary people. At the very least, it wasn’t a question that this young girl could beat up seven or eight men. Yet this kind of situation where they couldn’t endure the heavens or receive the earth happened to be the most awkward place for the cultivation world’s disaffected.
Perhaps she had no one to guide her on how to cultivate, but her talent could be already considered pretty good for her to be capable of facing the challenges of relying on a backwater Dao legacy to charge into the initial stage of Qi Condensation. Now that she saw him, the real deal, she definitely wanted to curry favor with him, in her eyes, a “wealthy second generation-er” of considerable background! For Xu Yangyi to give her direction on her cultivation journey would be of the greatest assistance!
“P-Please have some tea.” Before he even finished his thought, Zhou Tingting was already holding a cup of tea that was permeating the air with its aroma. Xu Yangyi didn’t neglect the almost negligible amount of spiritual force in the tea, and even further the fleeting soreness on the young girl’s face.
He smiled and took it. Taking a big gulp, he nodded. “The tea’s pretty good.”
Zhou Tingting’s gaze wavered, and she pursed her lips, lowering her head.
1. Zhuangzi dreamt he was a butterfly is a well-known chinese poem/story by Zhuangzi, famous Chinese philosopher. In this story, Zhuangzi is unsure whether he is actually a butterfly who dreamt he was Zhuangzi or Zhuangzi that dreamt he was a butterfly. So immersive was this experience.
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