The Imperial Ninefold Gates was the most popular training area on Grand-Orient Sacred Mountain, attracting crowds of disciples daily. One even had to line up at the first and second gates. Without a queue, it would be complete chaos.
Usually, the chiefs of the sacred mountain stood guard there to prevent the disciples from getting into fights. This month, for instance, there were two chiefs who shared the same status as hall prefects watching the gates on in shifts; the assignment was nothing short of boring.
Beyond the Imperial Ninefold Gates was a hall. Through the windows of the first floor, one could see a young man and young woman sipping tea as they chatted and looked outside. Upon closer inspection, these youthful people radiated a thick, bloody aura and didn't behave at all like youths in their twenties should.
The prerequisites for one to be made a chief of the sacred mountain was breaking through to the Saint realm. Even the lowest stage of saints, an earth saint, had a minimum lifespan of two centuries. Those that reached that realm in their forties only looked like twenty-year-olds, relative to mortals. Upon breaking through to the Saint realm, one would be reinvigorated to the point their aging would be reversed.
The chief on the left was a man with a huge physique, standing at least two meters tall. He resembled a huge, resting bear. There wasn't a single hair on his scalp, and a scar on his face made his head look rather like a shiny, cut boiled egg from afar. When viewed from up close, however, his fierce gaze immediately suggested that he was no normal person. Each one of the seniors of the sect was a terrifying existence, as far as Tianming was concerned. Even the inspectors from Heaven's Elysium would have to bow to these mountain chiefs, though that was a given since they were mere lackeys. The truly capable ones wouldn't leave Heaven's Elysium for such an assignment.
The sacred mountain chief on the right was quite different from the other. She seemed like a lively young lady; one would instantly be able to tell that she was the pinnacle of beauty with a cursory glance. Though she seemed young, her gaze, and the way she carried herself, suggested otherwise. Everywhere she directed her gaze, disciples would have to bow their heads to her. She was called Ye Yuxi.
"Yuxi, we're holding a banquet to celebrate Shengcheng's thirteenth birthday. Should I reserve a seat for you?" the bald man warily asked.
"No." She crossed her arms and refused without even looking at him.
"Ruthless as ever, huh?" the bald man said with a chuckle.
"Aren't you used to it by now? Yuwen Kaitai, I told you I don't fancy you long ago. Why waste your time on me? There are tons of other women lining up to be yours," she said.
"But they’re not my true love."
"Whatever you say." She couldn't be bothered to argue.
Yuwen Kaitai shook his head and smiled, though Ye Yuxi failed to notice the cold look that flashed across his face.
"Your brother is going to become an elder. I heard my dad and elder brother say that there were five candidates, and your brother got eighteen votes. Among them, two are from the Yuwen Clan. You know I spared no effort in convincing them to do so, right?"
"You think he can't become an elder without your two votes? If any of the other pathetic four managed to become elders, it would be too easy. Even I could become an elder," she said, rolling her eyes. Though she was chronologically rather old, her face still looked young and beautiful; even her eye roll still held quite a bit of charm.
"It isn't that clear cut, though. You know that my dad and eldest brother have quite a bit of influence in the council of elders. If it weren’t for them, many others would hesitate to cast their votes in your brother’s favor. There's no saying who they would've picked."
Ye Yuxi merely chuckled without responding.
"Well, soon, your Ye Clan will have two elders in the council. Congratulations," Yuwen Kaiti said.
"What's the big deal with that? Millennia ago, the Ye Clan's might was easily ten times that of your Yuwen Clan's."
"That's right. And back then, the Li Saint Clan was hundreds of times mightier than us, with your Ye Clan being second to none but them. Hahaha...."
The rise and fall of powers really amused Yuwen Kaiti. "Are you boasting?"
"Oh, no. It's mainly thanks to my brother and dad. I'm merely bathing in their limelight."
Ye Yuxi pursed her lips and took a sip of her tea. She still had a few more days of monitoring duty with Yuwen Kaiti here at the gates; she felt really annoyed about it, to say the least. The way he looked at her caused her to put her guard up.
Currently, the Grand-Orient Sect belongs to the Yuwen Clan! she complained in her heart. The Ye Clan no longer held so much sway in the clan. Perhaps that would improve when Ye Shaoqing became an elder.
She turned her gaze to the Imperial Ninefold Gates and observed the teenage kids advancing on their path towards Unity.
"Let go! Everyone, move aside! Don't block my way!" someone suddenly called out.
Ye Yuxi turned towards the direction of the voice, only to see a thirteen-year-old boy helping a group of young beauties towards the Imperial Ninefold Gates. It was far too crowded, so the youth simply started chasing people away.
Many a disciple who were just about to grasp some insight had their sessions ruined by the youth. It went without saying that they were rather mad about it. But when they saw who was behind them, they could only look down and leave with a look of dissatisfaction and make way for the youth.
"Isn't that Shengcheng?" Yuwen Kaiti said with a laugh, "What a kid. He's only thirteen, yet he has a bunch of beauties tailing him. Let me see... that young lass should be Gongsun Yu, right? And that one's Feng Chiyu, I think. She's Elder Qin Wulie's direct disciple. Those sisters, on the other hand, are called Su Li and Su Tao. Su Tao's only thirteen and is almost at Unity.... She must be the precious granddaughter of Elder Sun Zhen. And the rest..." Yuwen Kaiti continued with a smile on his face.
There were many beautiful women of high status around the handsome young man, making him seem all the more charming, especially considering his age.
"Is being surrounded by a bunch of girls a sign of his talent or ability?" Ye Yuxi asked.
"Of course! It's proof of his charm. This kid really is something... he's even more of a playboy than my brother."
Ye Yuxi rolled her eyes and didn't want to continue talking about that. They were simply not going to come to an agreement on that.
"You’d better watch him well. Don't think he can mess around at the Imperial Ninefold Gates just because his clan is powerful," she warned, referring to how the young man was chasing the other cultivators away.
"It's fine. This is merely a small matter. Those chased away don't have anyone backing them. Those disciples can't be compared to Shengcheng at all, given how he's already at the fifth level of Unity at his age. I'm sure he'll become a prime disciple in a few more years!" Yuwen Kaiti exclaimed.
Ye Yuxi no longer wanted to humor him. Yuwen Shengcheng often hung out with Yuwen Kaiti, so he often threw his weight around on his elder’s account.
Tianming wasn't aware of the two mountain chiefs watching over the Imperial Ninefold Gates. Just as he was about to enter the Imperial Ninefold Gates, he encountered a handsome youth that brought a bunch of beauties with him as he chased away quite a number of people in the queue.
"Who is this and why is he so arrogant?" Tianming asked. He could tell that the youth was only twelve or thirteen, yet he was stronger than Li Chiling and even Qingyu.
"That's Yuwen Shengcheng," she said with a squint. While the youth was no doubt handsome—the beauties around him were testament to that—Qingyu hated him with a passion.
"He’s Yuwen Shendu's younger brother."
Tianming asked, "So he has good talent for cultivation, which has me convinced. However, what’s he like as a person?"
"Well, he's one of the Yuwen Clan.... They act about the same way. You'll get used to them," she said coldly.
Tianming could tell that the girl called Su Tao was about to break through to the first level of Unity. He was currently cultivating at the fourth gate. When she took her seat, the other girls that surrounded Yuwen Shengcheng told her about their own experiences breaking through to Unity.
Yuwen Shengcheng chased away the rest of the disciples, leaving only them at the fourth gate. Judging by how happy and carefree the group seemed, they definitely lived a life with little hardship, given that their clans had the backing of several elders. Those without standing or power stood no chance in joining their circle, though Tianming couldn't be bothered with them.
"Qingyu, are you going to try breaking through to the fifth level of Unity today?" he asked.
"Should I lend Ling'er to you?" Feiling could achieve level six synchronization with Qingyu, after all, which was more than sufficient for cultivation.
"Are you sure?" She knew how it felt to be attached to Feiling.
"Of course," Tianming said. In an instant, he transferred Feiling to Qingyu by the simple expedient of grasping her hand, without letting Feiling manifest in her physical form, the process of which greatly shocked Qingyu. She had never imagined a person could actually 'flow' from one person's body to another. The moment Spiritual Attachment set in, she felt an infusion of energy. Even though it wasn't as impressive as it was on Tianming, her combat abilities were substantially improved. Her capabilities were improved by roughly six tenths of a level.
"Thank you, Ling'er, Big Brother."
"No need to thank him. He has nothing to do with it," Feiling said. Currently, she couldn't show herself. But when Tianming managed to secure his footing in the sect and had the ability to protect her, perhaps she wouldn't need to constantly stay attached to him any longer.
Without cultivating under the gates, Tianming didn't feel anything special emanating from them. He followed Qingyu through one gate after another, heading for the fifth gate. By the time they reached the fourth, Yuwen Shengcheng spotted them. While Tianming hadn't met him before, Yuwen Shengcheng knew who he was.
"Stop!" he said haughtily, crossing his arms.Previous Chapter Next Chapter