“Congratulations, Elder. You have finally perfected your techniques and become the real dominator of the Southland of Sorcerers!”
“Elder Spiritual Vulture, you are truly invincible in the world. Everybody in the Silver Wolf Mountain is at your service!”
“Elder! Elder! Elder!”
Ling Lanyin suddenly woke up from a bizarre nightmare and moaned, only to discover that the adulations that she heard in her dream were actually happening in the town of the Fire Rude Clan!
She was shuddering coldly as if she had fallen into an icy cave. The golden core inside her abdomen was shaking like a candle in the blowing wind. She breathed for a long time before it occurred to her that she was not in Huo Wujiu’s messy camp but in the Fire Rude Clan’s town.
She was safe for now.
But she did not know how long her safety could last.
For Ling Lanyin, everything that had happened in that short day was as long as a nightmare that she could not wake up or free herself from.
Just two days earlier, she had been a center of public attention, a rarely-seen prodigy in training, and an orchid angel that everybody adored.
She had been born and raised in the Ling family, a noble family in the Great Qian Dynasty. Although she was a female, she had never been neglected by her family because she had revealed her talent for training very young. Instead, she had been given even more resources than the males of her family were.
She had lived up to her family’s expectations, too. At the age of twelve, she had already distinguished herself and gotten officially recruited by the Purple Pole Sword Sect, her family’s reliance. Ever since then, her path of Cultivation had been smooth and unstoppable. After several decades, she had grown into one of the youngest Cultivators at the peak of the Core Formation Stage in the Purple Pole Sword Sect and even in the entire Great Qian Dynasty!
Ling Lanyin had always been confident in herself. She believed that nothing in this world could not be resolved by her orchid sword.
Although it was her first field mission off the mountain, she had not thought too much of it because her targets were merely a bunch of ignorant barbarians.
Moreover, she was just a support; her senior brother ‘Thunderous Straight Swordsman’ Lou Chongxiao was the man to make the calls. What was there to be worried about?
It had never occurred to her that…
Everything changed after only one day. Her senior brother as well as the elite swordsmen in her sect had been beheaded. Master Black Moon, who had always been a close friend to the Cultivators from central plateaus, had defected. The enemy had sent out such an important person as Han Yuantai, the Lord of Behemothic Eagle. To make matters worse, at the life and death moment, a creepy, wicked Master Spiritual Vulture jumped out of nowhere!
What—what was happening?
Ling Lanyin had completely lost her cool.
It was not until then that she realized how weak and vulnerable she actually was despite her indifference and condescension on the surface.
Right then, Ling Shoujing, her father and the Appeasing Ambassador of the Fifth Prefecture of the Southland of Sorcerers, heard the sound and walked in after knocking on the door.
Ling Lanyin had been training in the Purple Pole Sword Sect for decades and hardly went back home. She and her father were rather emotionally distant.
Also, after she advanced into the peak of the Core Formation Stage, under everybody’s adulation, she had slowly changed her attitude and begun to respect her father, who was only in the beginning level of the Core Formation Stage, less. She had believed that she was the true pillar of the Ling family.
When they were on their way south, her father had been quite courteous and respectful due to her identity as a Cultivator in the peak of the Core Formation Stage, too, which added to her arrogance.
But at this moment, with everything being more chaotic than ever, Ling Shoujing, a Class-Two official of the court, showed his calmness and wisdom.
While Ling Lanyin was still panicking, he had recovered from confusion quickly and started studying the new situation, hoping to save the lost cause!
Ling Lanyin hurried to greet her father and ask, “Father, what’s the situation outside?”
They were now under house custody in the Fire Rude Clan’s town. No one was to leave the town without Master Spiritual Vulture’s permission.
Although the barbarian guards outside of the house could not stop them, the father and the daughter did not dare act recklessly when they thought of Master Spiritual Vulture’s cruel methods at the bloodstained dawn.
“Right now, we cannot tell who’s friend and who’s foe. Everything is still ambiguous. I have asked Yuan Wu to officially meet Master Spiritual Vulture and see what he plans to do. Yuan Wu has always been the smartest one of them all. He should be reporting to us soon. There’s no need to fret, my child!”
Ling Shoujing waved his hands and drank from the pot of cold tea on the table. It was obvious that the Class-Two official of the court was not as calm as he appeared to be.
“What he plans to do…”
Ling Lanyin was still at a loss. Thinking for a moment, she asked in self-comfort, “But Master Spiritual Vulture killed Master Black Moon brutally and beat Han Yuantai up the moment that he appeared in the morning. It should be a sign that he’s on the court’s side, shouldn’t it?”
Ling Shoujing was amused. Pondering for a moment, he explained, “You didn’t know his backstory. So, it’s understandable that you made such a conclusion. Master Spiritual Vulture was a person of the older generation who was active almost eighty years ago. He also spent most of his time in the Southland of Sorcerers and never went to the central plateaus. Therefore, it is perfectly normal that you young folk never heard the stories of his ruthless past.”
Ling Shoujing sighed and described Master Spiritual Vulture’s past doings to his daughter.
The female Cultivator was gasping nonstop the whole time.
“Master Spiritual Vulture and Master Black Moon hate each other’s guts. It is said that Master Black Moon found an opportunity to kill Master Spiritual Vulture because he wanted his junior brother’s share of their master Elder Five Despairs’ heritage!”
With a bitter smile, Ling Shoujing said, “But it appears now that Master Spiritual Vulture wasn’t really killed. He might’ve gone through other fortuitous incidents. All in all, he trained himself in seclusion for decades and finally grasped marvelous arts recently. So, he came back to Master Black Moon for revenge!
“He was hiding inside our army. He even held back the pain when the trap was activated while he was waiting for the chance to finish his senior brother Master Black Moon in one attack!
“Although the brutal man did kill Master Black Moon, it was purely for a personal grudge. He is not necessarily on the Great Qian Dynasty’s side!
“If he had killed Han Yuantai, his stance would have been very clear, but Han Yuantai was merely wounded and captured. So, there’s still a lot of suspense!”
“A brutal barbarian from almost a hundred years ago!” Ling Lanyin found it hard to believe. “Then, how come he looks so young?”
“There are many evil spells and arts in the Southland of Sorcerers,” Ling Shoujing said. “A lot of uncanny things may have happened during his decades of seclusion. It is also possible that he has possessed someone’s body or even built a new body from scratch on his own!
“The brutal man was a rarely-seen expert at the peak of the Core Formation Stage in the Southland of Sorcerers seventy years ago. After decades of seclusion, he must’ve grasped certain amazing arts that allowed him to advance into the middle level or even high level of the Nascent Soul Stage. He is one of the top experts in the world right now!
“Don’t underestimate him because of his appearance, my child. He is definitely one of the most brutal men in the world!”
Ling Lanyin quickly nodded.
If anybody dared underestimate him after witnessing the brutal man’s performance at dawn, they have felt that they had lived long enough!
“Well—” Ling Lanyin pondered for a moment and asked another question. “Father, which side do you think this Master Spiritual Vulture, who has just broken out of his decades of seclusion after grasping marvelous arts, will take? Great Qian or Ghost Qin?”
Ling Lanyin was quite worried.
She felt that the brutal man’s cruelty was quite similar to the viciousness of the Ghost Qin people propagated in her sect. They could easily become conspirators.
“It’s hard to say. Very hard!” Ling Shoujing shook his head with that still bitter smile. “He is a man of the older generation who has been gone for decades after all. He hardly visited the central plateaus, too. We know little about Master Spiritual Vulture’s personality and habits.
“Moreover, the man is cruel, petty, wicked, and utterly unpredictable. He does everything just because he wants to. He is an out-and-out maniac!
“The man is ten times more difficult to predict than Master Black Moon. Nobody knows which side he will take for what reason. Or maybe, he will take neither side and simply act on his own to please himself!
“However, my child, for the Great Qian Dynasty, for the Ling family, and for the Purple Pole Sword Sect, we must try everything we can to make the guy join us!”
There was obvious resistance on Ling Lanyin’s pretty face.
The Purple Pole Sword Sect was a righteous sect. The ideology to serve justice and help the weak was believed in by everyone.
She was naturally resistant to brutal barbarians who bordered between eccentric and evil such as Master Spiritual Vulture.
“My child, we are in the middle of a great crisis. You must bear the big picture in mind!” Ling Shoujing sighed and said solemnly, “I know that you certainly won’t see eye to eye with Master Spiritual Vulture simply because of his cruel and sordid style. In fact, do you think that I want to deal with such a barbarian?
“However, he has proved that his Cultivation is almost immeasurable by suppressing two Nascent Soul Stage Cultivators instantly purely on his own. How much trouble can such an unparalleled expert cause if he chooses to join Ghost Qin’s side instead of the Great Qian Dynasty?
“Moreover, his brutality was already well known in the Southland of Sorcerers decades ago, and today, he has cruelly tormented Master Black Moon, the top expert in the Southland of Sorcerers, in front of everyone, awing all the local tribes!
“It is very possible that his attitude will decide the attitude of the entire Southland of Sorcerers!
“The attitude of the Southland of Sorcerers concerns the life of the thousand people in the Ling family and the continuity of the entire Purple Pole Sword Sect. I believe that your master must’ve explained it to you already before you left for the mission, right?”
Conflicted, Ling Lanyin nodded rather helplessly.
“Everybody in the court was gloating and waiting for us to humiliate ourselves on our trip to the Southland of Sorcerers.” Ling Shoujing sniffed and said, “However, if we not only keep the Southland of Sorcerers stabilized but also bring a great expert above the middle level of the Nascent Soul Stage back with us, what will the noble sirs in the court have to say? Will they have any reason to punish the Ling family or to appropriate the Purple Pole Sword Sect?”