‘More sworn siblings?’ Yang Qi thought, somewhat taken aback. The thought hadn’t even occurred to him, and that was definitely not why he had saved them. But after thinking about it for a moment, he remembered that all of these people were like royalty in their various organizations. Some were even conclave students from the big institutes.
If they all became sworn siblings, then they would definitely make a powerful force if situations of life or death came around.
Although he wasn’t the type to rely on help all the time, having more sworn siblings wouldn't be a bad thing.
“Alright,” Yang Qi said with a nod. “Considering we were all in a deadly situation just now, I'd say becoming sworn siblings makes perfect sense. And we’re all from righteous, orthodox organizations. Here, in this very forest of peach trees, let’s become the closest of friends. It doesn’t matter which of us is male or female. We will be brothers and sisters. In fact, I’ll be the first to swear the oath.”
With that, he dropped to his knees.
Everyone else followed suit, their hearts pounding. Kneeling together in a circle, they used the soil itself to stand in for incense.
“I, Yang Qi….”
“I, Flame Clearspring….”
“I, Jun Tianchou….”
“I, Hua Fengfeng….”
Everyone spoke their names, and then, they joined their voices together.
“Today, on this island of peach blossoms, we swear to become brothers and sisters. Our surnames might be different, but we shall live and die together, and shall share honor and disgrace. We shall be bound together in spirit and action, shall rid the world of devils and demons, and shall face all difficulty together. As brothers and sisters, we won’t hesitate to go through hell and high water for each other. Let any betrayers be exterminated by heaven and executed by the earth.”
Afterward, they brushed the dust off their clothes, rose to their feet, and turned to embrace each other.
Cultivators of energy arts felt a special connection to heaven, and had a healthy fear and respect for its will. Now, they had sworn a formal oath to heaven to become sworn siblings, and thus, it was only natural that they immediately felt more closely connected to each other.
There were exactly fifteen people present.
Other than Yang Qi and Jun Tianchou, there were thirteen members of various institutes, aristocratic clans, or other powerful organizations. All of them were Quinary Lifeseizers or higher, and most were conclave disciples. They were a force who could shake the heavens and topple the earth in the Rich-Lush Continent.
And now, Yang Qi considered them all as brothers and sisters.
Flame Clearspring was a deputy pontifex from the Tabernacle of Flame.
Hua Fengfeng was a conclave student from the Sun Moon Institute, a Septenary Lifeseizer who could rebuke even the elements of nature. In addition to being extremely beautiful, she was a valiant and formidable fighter as well. There were two other female conclave students from the Sun Moon Institute, friends of Hua Fengfeng. They were blood sisters, and were named Ji Xiaoman and Ji Xiaorong. 
Those three were the only women in the group.
Then there was Zhao Wuhun, a Septenary Lifeseizer and conclave student from the House of Martial Saints. His master was a Legendary from that same organization, making him very famous.
Next was Meng Qingshan, a Senary Lifeseizer and young lord from the famous Meng Clan. The Meng Clan had a history that stretched back to the distant past, and once had a Great Sage as one of their members, much like the Gu Clan had. However, Meng Qingshan actually had a much higher position in his clan than Gu Fenxian had. 
Next were Soaring Cloudheaven, Soaring Cloudwyrm, and Soaring Cloudgrit, who were all Quinary Lifeseizers. They were blood brothers from the House of Soaring Clouds, an organization similar to the House of Spring and Autumn or the House of Martial Saints. 
Next was Yuan Tiankong, a conclave student from the Sea God Institute, a Quinary Lifeseizer and Elder Brother to Jun Tianchou. 
After him was Sun Qian, Quinary Lifeseizer and conclave student from the True Dragon Institute. 
Then there was Li Zhengdao, conclave student from the True Dragon Institute, and Elder Brother of Sun Qian. He was also a Quinary Lifeseizer. 
Finally was Su Ximing, who was actually not a disciple or child of any organization or clan. He had come across good fortune of his own, and silently practiced cultivation to the point of being a Quinary Lifeseizer. He was a friend of Jun Tianchou, and was actually preparing to found a sect of his own. It had all started when he came across the first half of an imperial-class energy art, the Eight Polarities Divine Anthology.
One by one, Yang Qi met all of his new brothers and sisters, and learned a bit about them. All of them knew that he was from the Demi-Immortal Institute, and they were already in awe of his energy arts. In fact, Flame Clearspring could tell that despite being an Octonary Lifeseizer, if he got in a real fight with Yang Qi, he would come out the loser.
For a Quinary Lifeseizer to be able to defeat someone in Octonary Lifeseizing was a rarity that only happened once every thousand years.
“Brother,” Flame Clearspring said, “who could ever have guessed that a genius like you would rise up in the Demi-Immortal Institute? When the Inter-Institutional Martial Arts Competition arrives, I'm certain you’ll sweep your opponents and take first place. The Tabernacle of Flame has been invited to observe, so I’ll definitely be watching your performance.”
In response, Yang Qi shook his head. “I'm not interested in fame. I just want to practice my cultivation in peace and quiet. In fact, I don't want to make much of a scene until I'm a Legendary. Before then, I'm worried I might get killed if my true strength is revealed.”
“Killed?” Hua Fengfeng said, clearly surprised. “Does someone have a grudge with you, Little Bro Qi? If so, how strong are they? Don't tell me that you have a beef with a Legendary.”
Yang Qi smiled. “It's a personal matter of mine that I’d rather not trouble you all with.” With that, he waved his hand, causing a manifestation of Humanoid True Energy to appear, which broke apart and reformed into a handful of paper talismans. “Brothers and Sisters, my Humanoid True Energy contains some of my heart-blood. If you ever encounter any trouble, crush the talisman, and I’ll sense it. And after that, ten thousand mountains and rivers couldn’t block my path to come help.”
With that, he sent the paper talismans flying out to everyone present.
Snatching a talisman, Flame Clearspring said, “Yang Qi, if you have that attitude, then you’re not treating us as true brothers and sisters. You just braved the depths of a Preheaven Devil-Eye to save us. If you’re facing some trouble, how could we possibly sit idly by? In fact, even if it were a Legendary, we still wouldn’t need to fear. After all, every single one of us is backed by a major power, right? Truth be told, with all fifteen of us working together, we could shake the entire continent! Who out there would we possibly be afraid of?”
Flame Clearspring was the son of the pontifex of the Tabernacle of Flame, who was a famous Legendary, so it was little wonder he was so confident.
Yang Qi sighed. “Well, to tell you the truth, it’s the Crown Prince Society. Have you heard of them?”
“Crown Prince Society?” Faces fell, and some gasps were even heard. “Brother Yang, don’t tell me that your enemy is the leader of the Crown Prince Society, the famous Crown Prince himself? I’ve heard he's a god from heaven descended into the mortal world, born after his mother dreamed of a fallen star. He's definitely not someone to take lightly.”
“Well, I'm not specifically referring to him. Here's the whole story….” With that, Yang Qi went on to explain how Yun Hailan betrayed him, joined the Demi-Immortal Institute, attracted the attention of the Crown Prince, and finally took Patriarchs Wind and Cloud as masters. “If I can reach the Legendary level, then I would be able to fight with people like the Crown Prince if I had to.”
“You’re right,” Jun Tianchou said. “That is a bit of a problem. The truth is that although all of us are outstanding individuals from the most powerful organizations in the Rich-Lush Continent, the Crown Prince ranks even higher than us. A mere wave of his hand could cause a storm of chaos to grip the lands. However, even if he were more powerful than he already is, if you make a move on him, Brother, we’ll all join you!”
“That’s right,” said Sun Qian from the True Dragon Institute. “I'm not afraid of anything in heaven or earth!” But then he shook his head. “That said, the Crown Prince Society really is powerful. They’ve even started meddling in affairs in our True Dragon Institute. In fact, some of the students there have joined the society. And with the blessing of the society, the leaders of the so-called branch there have advanced by leaps and bounds in their cultivation. Everyone knows how ambitious the Crown Prince is. He wants to single-handedly control all of the students in all four of the institutes. But it's not like we’ll let him do that without a fight, right?”
“You’re right, Brother Sun Qian,” Yang Qi asked. “By the way, is there a young woman at your institute named Yan Feixia? She’s probably a freshman student. I'm just curious how she's been doing.”
“Freshman student? I usually don’t pay attention to people who rank so low.” After all, the difference between a conclave student like Sun Qian and a freshman student was like the difference between heaven and earth. “Although, now that I think about it, the name Yan Feixia does sound familiar. I'm pretty sure one of the Legendary elders took a liking to her and accepted her as a consecrated apprentice. She must have a pretty impressive background. Why? Are you close with her?”
“Close with her? To some degree, yes. I saved her life once. But on the other hand, she’s somewhat of an enemy. My clan drove her clan out of the city we both come from.” He went on to provide a bit more explanation, then said, “The reason I bring it up is not because I want her dead. If that were the case, I wouldn’t have saved her life. I’m just interested to know if she’d be willing to turn weapons of war into gifts of jade and silk as the saying goes. In fact, that’s one of the reason why we simply drove her Yan Clan away, instead of wiping them out.”
Sun Qian nodded. “I understand what you mean, Brother. If I get the chance, I’ll explain the situation to her. It’s always better to end rivalries than foster grudges. We’re students of the four institutes now. We shouldn’t let clan squabbling interfere with more important things.”
At this point, Hua Fengfeng said, “Little Bro Qi, there are always a multitude of issues to deal with in life, and little time to do so. We’re all brothers and sisters now, so we’ll have plenty of time in the future to take care of any important matters. For now, it’s time for us all to return home. The big martial arts tournament is coming, and we all look forward to seeing you stomp the competition.”
Yang Qi nodded. “Very well. I look forward to reuniting with all of you there. It won't be long now.” Yang Qi was anxious to get back to the Demi-Immortal Institute and make good use of the life force springwater. If he could rise by another level or two, then if he ended up facing a Legendary, he would at least be able to defend himself.
“I’ll take my leave now, Brother.”
“If you have the time, come visit us. We’ll definitely entertain you well.”
Everyone said their goodbyes. After all, the fourteen others in the group had been stuck in the Preheaven Devil Formation for seven days and seven nights. They needed time to replenish their true energy, and then reflect on the experience. That was the only way to benefit from the incident, and even make some progress because of it.
Flame Clearspring was the first to fly into the air and then speed away, and everyone else followed suit.
1. Ji Xiaoman and Ji Xiaorong: Ji is a common surname which also means “order, discipline, age, era”. The two sisters share the Xiao character, which means “small, little.” Man means “graceful, large, lengthy”. Rong means “tolerate, permit, form, shape”.
2. Meng Qingshan: Meng is a surname (same as Meng Hao). Qing means “green, blue, azure, young” and Shan means “mountain”. This is kind of a funny name if you’re a fan of ISSTH, because the mountain that Meng Hao always reminisces about, Mount Daqing, uses the same characters as “qingshan”.
3. Soaring brothers: Similar to Flame Clearspring, I went back and forth about whether to translate or transliterate these three brothers’ names. In the end, I feel that the names are intended to be fabricated, similar to Daoist names.
5. Sun Qian: Sun is a common surname that also means “grandchild”. Qian is a really complicated character. It has a variety of meanings on its own, but in xianxia novels usually refers to its function as one of the Eight Trigrams, in which it symbolizes the sky or the heavens.
6. Li Zhengdao: Li is a common surname. Zheng means “true, proper, correct” and Dao means “way, path, the Dao”. Together, they make the word Zhengdao which means “bonafide, genuine, the right path, morally upright”.
As I pointed out in a previous chapter, the idea of becoming sworn siblings, even with someone you just met, is a trope of Chinese literature/culture that goes back thousands of years. Probably the most famous version is the “Oath of the Peach Garden”. The fact that this chapter took place amongst peach trees is most likely a nod to that story from one of the four classics of Chinese literature, the Romance of the Three Kingdoms.