The next day....
The great hall of the Nie clan was full of excited people, and the atmosphere was quite bustling.
Liu Yan, from the Cloudsoaring sect, was surrounded by a crowd of Nie clan members of all ages. They showed great concern for him by asking about his well-being, hoping to win his favor and thus giving their children or grandchildren a slightly better chance of being admitted to the Cloudsoaring sect.
Liu Yan was wearing a grey robe, and a hint of smile could be seen at the corner of his mouth. He was in the seat of honor, chatting to nearby Nie clan members with a bit impatience in his eyes.
From the start to the end, Liu Yan never stood up; the surrounding members of Nie clan kept bowing in an extremely humble manner.
One by one, members of the Nie clan brought in their one-year-old children through the gate of the hall.
Every comer would take their child to greet Liu Yan and make a introduction to him with their face full of smiles. Only after that would they greet and pay respect to the three elders of the Nie clan, who were seated beside Liu Yan.
Nie Donghai, together with his second brother Nie Beichuan and third brother Nie Nanshan, didn’t try to flatter and please Liu Yan due to their special status. But every time they met his gaze, they would also wear their brightest smiles.
Unlike the day before, Nie Donghai looked radiant and energetic, with absolutely no evidence of injuries.
“Nie Qian? What did you bring Nie Tian here for?” These sudden, ill-timed words came from Nie Lan, who had introduced his son to Liu Yan moments ago. He furrowed his eyebrows as he looked unhappily towards the gate of the hall.
Nie Lan was Nie Beichuan’s son. While he was the oldest among the second generation of the Nie clan, his cultivation talent was quite poor. He had only reached the ninth level of Qi Refining and hadn’t been able to break through the bottleneck and enter the Lesser Heaven stage.
For this reason, he had long since given up his own cultivation and placed all his hope in his three sons.
At present, his first son, who was only eleven years old, had reached the seventh level of Qi Refining. As long as he could reach the ninth level in the next four years, he would win the Cloudsoaring sect’s favor and become their disciple. With the Cloudsoaring sect’s help, he would eventually be able to reach the Lesser Heaven stage and live a bright future.
His second son, who was six, also showed outstanding cultivation talent by achieving the fourth level of Qi Refining. A promising future was in store.
Today he brought his third son Nie Hong, who had just turned one.
The births of his three children had been carefully calculated so that every one of them happened to be at the proper age to attend the quinquennial lot-drawings. Both of the elder sons had made remarkable gains during the last two lot-drawings.
It was Nie Hong’s turn this time.
As Nie Lan spoke, all the eyes of the Nie clan members inside the hall became fixed on Nie Qian and Nie Tian, who had just passed through the gate.
“Eldest brother,” Nie Qian said loudly. “I’ve brought Nie Tian to attend this year’s lot-drawing convention.”
Nie Tian was standing by her side, as adorable and strong as a tiger cub. Not only was he taller than the other children in attendance, but he also seemed more muscular.
In spite of the volume of her voice, Nie Qian looked a bit uneasy under everyone’s scalding stares.
Nie Tian, on the contrary, was full of smiles, completely unaware of the all the eyes glaring at them with ill intentions. Instead, he seemed to be enjoying being the center of attention, and didn’t flinch an inch.
“Nie Tian?” Nie Lan snorted disdainfully. He didn’t look very happy. “His family name is Nie, but it is only because we have no idea who his father is. In fact, he isn’t a true Nie at all. According to the Nie clan rules, a daughter’s son shouldn’t be qualified to attend lot-drawing conventions. Don’t make trouble out of nothing. Just take Nie Tian and leave. Stop wasting Mr. Liu Yan’s and everybody else’s time.”
Nie Qian immediately turned to Nie Donghai. “Father!”
“It doesn’t matter who my son-in-law is,” Nie Donghai replied forcefully. “Jin’er said before she died that Nie Tian’s father was willing to take our surname and join our clan, hence Nie Tian is a descendant of the Nie clan.”
“Eldest brother,” Nie Nanshan said with a dark smile, “As far as I remember, you itched to eat that man alive. You used to talk all the time about killing him at all costs once you found him. How come you’ve changed your attitude all of a sudden and admitted his status as your son-in-law? Plus, to take our surname… well, rules have to be followed, don’t they? I don’t recall that guy ever taking a vow in our ancestral shrine.”
“Exactly. Without taking a vow in the ancestral shrine and finishing the ritual, a man can’t be counted as a son-in-law who is qualified to take our surname.”
“Clanmaster, you can’t be so eager to take a man you harbor deep hatred with as your son-in-law, just to qualify Nie Tian’s attendance to the lot-drawing. You have to remember that Nie Jin’s death was all because of him!”
“Even though you are the clanmaster, you can’t disregard the family rules and act recklessly, right?”
Inside the hall, both immediate members and extended members of the Nie clan who had brought their children started yelling in dissatisfaction and accusing Nie Donghai of acting recklessly.
Every additional child participating in the lot-drawing would mean a reduction of their own child’s opportunities, so naturally, people weren’t happy about that.
If it were before Nie Donghai had been seriously wounded, he would have more authority, and people wouldn’t dare to act this way.
However, they knew about Nie Donghai’s condition and the fact that he might have to hand over his position as clanmaster soon due to his degrading cultivation level, so they no longer felt the need to give him face.
Nie Beichuan sat straight in his chair and listened to the noisy crowd with no intention to break the tumult.
As the yelling grew louder and louder, Liu Yan from the Cloudsoaring sect coughed softly.
All of a sudden, everyone shut their mouths.
Even Nie Nanshan, who was about to question Nie Donghai one more time, stopped immediately and turned to Liu Yan with a smiling face.
Liu Yan, his face smooth and jade-like, had a slight change in his expression as he looked towards Nie Tian, who stood next to Nie Qian. “This is… the son of my junior martial sister?”
While he talked, a twinge of subtle pain flashed in his eyes.
His words suddenly reminded everyone that Nie Jin had the most amazing talent among the second generation of the Nie clan. She managed to reach the ninth level of Qi Refining at the age of ten, and thus was acknowledged by the Cloudsoaring sect and became one of their disciples.
Liu Yan was her eldest martial brother.
“Sir, Nie Tian is my poor sister’s only son,” Nie Qian said sadly.
Liu Yan gently nodded as he looked at Nie Tian with a complex and profound expression, before he warmly said, “This time, I’d originally planned to provide five small toys. However, my junior martial sister and I go way back, so for Nie Tian, I will take the initiative and add two spiritual tools from my own collection. How does this sound?”
He turned around to look at Nie Beichuan and Nie Nanshan.
“Since Mr. Liu has said so, of course we will agree,” Nie Beichuan replied in a hurry.
Nie Nanshan also nodded at once with a smiling face while saying,”Whatever Mr. Liu says.”
None of the rest of the crowd dared to object.
“With that settled, the lot-drawing convention will now begin.” Liu Yan cut to the chase. He waved his left hand, sending seven streaks of mysterious light flying out of his sleeve.
The seven streaks of light, each a different color, lit up the Nie clan’s great hall, illuminating everything around them.
The lights fell on the stone floor in center of the great hall and turned into seven tools glistening with spiritual light, namely, a sword, a saber, a fan, a glove, a wooden staff, a bead, and a piece of animal bone.
Every member of the Nie clan, whether young or old, voluntarily cleared out of the center of the great hall as soon as they saw the seven spiritual tools landing on the ground. Immediately after that, they gathered around the tools.
Everyone’s gaze was immediately fixed on the seven exquisite spiritual tools, and none of them bothered to give Nie Tian another glance.
Nie Donghai and his two brothers stood up subconsciously and emanated spiritual fluctuations to sense the attributes and ranks of the seven spiritual tools.
Many members of the Nie clan, eyes shining with eagerness, also tried to use their inner spiritual energy to judge the spiritual tools.
Cyan, purple, red, and blue colored spiritual energy emerged from the seven spiritual tools under the power sensing of the Qi warriors of the Nie clan.
“Elementary grade five!”
Nie Lan’s wide-open eyes were fixed on the cyan bead that Liu Yan had brought out last, as his breathing grew slightly rapid.
“Oh, heavens. Is it really of grade five?”
“Aren’t all the spiritual tools supposed to be of Elementary grade three according to the traditions? A spiritual tool of the fifth grade, even at Elementary level, is still of great value. It is usually something awarded to their own disciples, but this time...”
“How generous of Mr. Liu!”
The cyan bead seemed to have strands of lightning flickering inside it under the influence of everyone’s spiritual energy, which made it especially rare. Therefore, everyone’s eyes turned red and glittered with greed.
Nie Beichuan fixedly stared at the bead as a strange light flashed in his eyes.
Nie Lan was his son, which meant Nie Hong was his grandson. Long before Nie Hong was born, he used secret magics to test Nie Hong’s talent.
Due to the low level of his cultivation base, he relied on the help of an extraordinary medicinal pill to be seventy percent sure that Nie Hong had the inner attribute of lightning.
That Elementary grade five cyan bead was clearly lightning-attributed, making it a spiritual tool completely compatible with Nie Hong’s cultivation.
Nie Beichuan’s attitude changed slightly as he faced Liu Yan. He bowed gratefully and said, “Thank you so much for your generosity, Mr. Liu Yan.”
The rest of the crowd followed Nie Beichuan’s lead and expressed their gratitude to Liu Yan for being so generous.
Liu Yan waved his hands to quiet down the crowd and said, ”From now on, no one shall use their spiritual energy to sense the spiritual tools; that could disturb the aura of the tools. As of now, it’s completely up to these eight children to determine their own destinies.”
“Let the eight children in!” Nie Donghai said in a low voice.
“Go ahead!” Nie Qian felt a bit of relief and let go of Nie Tian.
The moment those seven spiritual tools landed on the ground, Nie Tian’s eyes shined with eagerness and impatience, as he wanted to rush into the central area immediately. Were it not for Nie Qian, who had been tightly clasping his arms, he probably wouldn’t have waited for everyone to finish talking before he rushed into the central area.
When she let go, Nie Tian, as she expected, opened his arms in a manner as if to embrace the whole world, and rushed into the central area.
The next day....