The Spiritual Mountain Sect was a branch of the Grand Mystery Sect.
When reaching a certain scale, every sect would have different interest groups within.
Many interest groups were unable to swallow their opponents despite the competitions on and off the table. They were unwilling to wound each other for nothing. So, they would often reach deals and establish branches from the main sect, bringing the resources to develop in the broad world outside.
Sometimes, to march into the new states or prefectures, or to explore the unpopulated frontier, the local disciples in such areas were often given greater powers and incentives and turned from local representatives of the sect into new branches later.
Some of the smaller sects in the local area, awed by the foreign sects, were willing to be acquired, which was another source of the branches.
By the standard of the modern Cultivation civilization, their relationship was similar to parent companies, child companies, and OEMs.
Although the branches and the main sect were divided, they were still deeply connected with each other. If they did not separate on bad terms, their relationship was not necessarily bad. Sometimes they were even intimate sects like brothers who would make decisions together.
It was especially so for the Grand Mystery Sect, the largest sect in the world that boasted countless secondary branches. They mostly maintained friendly relationships. The branches were essentially a team of lackeys that the Grand Mystery Sect had raised. Scattered around the Great Qian Dynasty, they interweaved into a complicated network of interests. At a critical moment, they could also gather together, wave their colorful banners, and cheer for the Grand Mystery Sect.
The Spiritual Mountain Sect was exactly one of such ‘lackeys’. Xie Xinghuo was an elder of the Spiritual Mountain Sect and the best expert in his sect.
As a lackey of the Grand Mystery Sect, hearing that somebody had spoken of the grandmaster of the sect directly in such a scornful tone and claimed that Master Righteous One was bound to lose, how could he not jump out and berate him?
When Li Yao first arrived on the lotus jade disc, he had been quite mysterious, and nobody could deduce his background. If he also had the Purple Pole Sword Sect backing him, Xie Xinghuo would not necessarily have had the courage to question him.
However, he did notice that Li Yao’s communication with Ling Lanyin did not go so well, which put the guy in an awkward position. The guy seemed to be neither on the Grand Mystery Sect’s side nor the Purple Pole Sword Sect’s side. He was all by himself!
With that in mind, what was there to be concerned about?
Xie Xinghuo meant to demonstrate his loyalty by defending Qi Zhongdao’s reputation in front of his fellow Cultivators so that his sect would distinguish itself among all the branches of the Grand Mystery Sect and be appreciated!
Thinking that through, Xie Xinghuo further raised his voice and shrieked, “Master Righteous One is too honorable to be estimated or insulted by any random guy. Who are you, and where are you from, Fellow Cultivator? How dare you disrespect Master with your arrogant words?”
Xie Xinghuo’s voice indeed attracted the attention of quite a lot of Cultivators nearby who had been staring at Yan Liren just now. They were all looking at Li Yao again.
However, they were all amused by Li Yao’s crazy nose bleeding and the stain in front of his chest.
Li Yao smiled bitterly to himself.
He had never been a man who liked to invoke trouble without a good reason. It was indeed reckless of him to have said that. As a branch of the Grand Mystery Sect, it was only natural for the guy to stand up for his main sect.
If it were the real Li Yao, he would not have bothered talking to the guy anymore and just left. Or, he might have revealed some shocking techniques so that the guy would see his real capabilities and stop asking for death. Either way, the problem would be resolved. He would never escalate the trouble to the point that it was unresolvable.
However, he was playing the role of Master Spiritual Vulture right now!
The Ancient Sages Sector might be underdeveloped. However, the Nascent Soul Stage Cultivators here were all as cunning as foxes. In order not to expose any loophole, he could only react according to the personalities of such a character as Master Spiritual Vulture.
I’ll have to be a snob again. How painful!
Thinking to himself, Li Yao stared at Xie Xinghuo without saying anything.
Xie Xinghuo felt quite creepy under his stare. He could not help but take a step back and scratched his face before he said angrily, “Why are you not replying, fellow Cultivator? Do you have no respect for the Spiritual Mountain Sect?”
But Li Yao still looked at him emotionlessly and mysteriously, as if he was scrutinizing every pore on the guy’s face.
Xie Xinghuo was shocked, infuriated, and somewhat scared. Holding his flying sword, he gnashed his teeth. “What are you looking at?”
“Please don’t be angry, fellow Cultivator.” Li Yao finally opened his mouth. With a smile, he said gently, “I have never seen any face of as much fortune as your face, Fellow Cultivator Xie. The face is incredible and certainly unique in this world. That is why I forgot my manners just now. Please do excuse me, Fellow Cultivator!”
“A face of fortune?”
Xie Xinghuo and the bystanders put on weird expression.
None of them expected the mysterious, anonymous unaffiliated Cultivator to make such an irrelevant statement. Was it a sign that the guy was giving in?
Xie Xinghuo could not help but touched his slim face and curl his lips. Softening his tone, he said, “How so?”
With his hands behind his back, Li Yao said slowly, “Without your face of fortune, Fellow Cultivator Xiao, how would you have met me today?
“For the past few decades, I’ve been living in seclusion inside the forests to calm myself down. I often heard the brooks inside the forests flowing, which sounded like pearls dropping into jade trays. I saw the sun rising in the east and setting in the west, watched the moon waxing and waning, and observed the flourishing and perishing of trees and grass. Finally, I perceived the vicissitudes of nature and washed away my aggressiveness. My belief today is immaculate.
“Fellow Cultivator Xie, you happen to have run into me today. That’s why you are still alive right now. How would you explain that if you do not have a face of fortune?
“If you had met me a hundred years ago, Fellow Cultivator Xie, with your accusation just now, I’m afraid that you would’ve died the most miserable death. You would’ve ended up in a pool of pus, and even your soul would have been suffering the most excruciating pain!”
“…” Xie Xinghuo and the Cultivators nearby were all dumbfounded.
After a long silence, somebody around finally understood Li Yao’s obscure sarcasm and could not help but laugh out loud.
Blinking, Xie Xinghuo realized what was going on, too. He was so exasperated that his yellow face flushed pure red. Thousands of arrows of blood seemed to be shooting out of his face, as he unsheathed his bright sword and roared, “What—what—what are you saying?”
Li Yao eyed him with great bafflement.
He seemed to be confused why somebody would be so determined to rush into hell when he could live a good life on the earth.
After a long sigh, he said solemnly, “Fellow Cultivator Xie, do not rush into anything. Please heed my words.
“When I was living in the forests, I saw grass sprouting stubbornly below the giant rocks, I saw a deer whose one leg was bitten off struggling to survive with the three legs left, and I saw countless ants work hard to store food and strengthen their nest before winter, knowing that they would be dead for sure.
“Why did the creatures resist and struggle so hard? To live one more day, of course, right?
“As the saying goes, even an insect values its life. Life is the most priceless treasure in the world that even animals cherish. It is needless to say that you must’ve gone through a lot of difficulties to be born as a human and to advance into the level you are in right now, Fellow Cultivator Xie!
“Even if you are not considering yourself, you must think more for your wife, your children, and your old parents at home. Why do you have to ask to be killed instead of cherishing your good life, which didn’t come easily?”
“You—you—you—!” Xie Xinghuo was blushing so hard that his neck was like a furnace. He was almost throwing out his guts together with his blood as he shouted furiously, “Who are you exactly? My sword does not kill anyone without a name!”
Narrowing his eyes, Li Yao said, one word after another, “Master Spiritual Vulture of the Flying Thunder Cave on the Broken Intestine Mountain.”
The Flying Thunder Cave on the Broken Intestine Mountain was the residence of Elder Five Despairs, who was the master of the real Master Spiritual Vulture.
However, Master Five Despairs had been killed by Master Spiritual Vulture and Master Black Moon a long time ago. Master Black Moon had since been killed by Li Yao. So, the successors in the lineage included only Master Spiritual Vulture. According to the tradition of the Cultivators, he was the new owner of the Flying Thunder Cave now.
It was the brand of Master Five Despairs’ lineage. If the successor really trained himself in the Flying Thunder Cave was not important.
“Master Spiritual Vulture…”
The somewhat strange name cast Xie Xinghuo and the other Cultivators from central plateaus into deep thought.
Sensing that the mysterious aura around Li Yao was on the rise, Xie Xinghuo even took a few steps back to better prepare himself.
However, after he finally recalled who ‘Master Spiritual Vulture’ was, he burst into laughter. “And I was wondering who you are. Master Spiritual Vulture, the guy who once dominated the Southland of Sorcerers but vanished into thin air. I haven’t heard any news about you for decades. It never occurred to me that you would dare mess around in the Dragon Spring Meeting. You truly don’t know what you are doing!”
The Cultivators from the Southland of Sorcerers were best at domesticating wildlife and making poisons. They were often despised by the Cultivators from central plateaus, and their arts were often deemed to be queer.
Only the best of them, such as Master Black Moon who was in the Nascent Soul Stage, could manage to be acknowledged by the Cultivators of the Great Qian Dynasty.
Those in the Core Formation Stage such as Master Spiritual Vulture, who disappeared decades ago into nobody knew where, were not in the eyes of the Cultivators from central plateaus at all. Their only impression of such people was ‘Oh, there seems to be a guy with that name!’
Perhaps, in the dense forests, the tricks of the barbarian Cultivators were still difficult to deal with. However, in an open confrontation on the sword test field, they were not worth mentioning at all!
“Master Spiritual Vulture, although the Spiritual Mountain Sect is insignificant, you are not to insult us like that!”
Thinking that he had figured out Li Yao’s background, Xie Xinghuo was greatly assured. He sheathed his flying sword, but his killing intent was even more intense as he stared and Li Yao and gnashed his teeth. “However, this is the Dragon Spring Meeting. There are rules here. The competition between the Sword Maniac and Master Righteous One is about to commence. Your blood doesn’t deserve to tarnish the Bronze Censer Mountain!
“Our Spiritual Mountain Sect has recently received a sharp sword, but we lack a sword tester with real materials! After the Sword Maniac and Master Righteous One’s competition is over, do you dare test the sharpness of our sword in the sword test field?”