Su Yu was dismayed. Originally, he had thought that the Sanctuary would be a safe place for him to cultivate his abilities and, in time, when he was strong enough, he would be reunited with Xianer. He had not anticipated the dissolution of the Sanctuaryluck simply was not on his side. Furthermore, the Holy Kingfinally in front of him in personhad turned murderous!
A beautiful shadow flew in front of Su Yu.
"Holy King! Please, give him a chance!" Xia Jingyu slightly lifted the hem of her clothes as she groveled before the Holy King.
She was touched by Su Yu's devotion, though she was still pained by his disregard for his own life for the sake of Xianer.
The killing intent in the eyes of the Holy King deepened. "Back down, or you too will die!"
"Please, Holy King, fulfill his wish!" Xia Jingyu begged and pleaded, her pretty eyes persistent.
"Humph! Such insolence!" The Holy King was completely enraged!
It was still tolerable with one person provoking his majesty, and now another person, where was his majesty in all this? Within one word, the Holy King would be able to determine both their lives and deaths!
It was not entirely absurd for one person to go against the Holy Kingbut now there were two! The Holy King could order their deaths with a single wordwhat would happen now?!
Just as the deaths of the two rebels seemed certain, another figure appeared.
"Master! Please give Su Yu a chance!" Qiu Changjian bowed as he appealed to the Holy King on his friend's behalf. His heart trembled; only through understanding Su Yu's past could one understand Su Yu's persistence. Su Yu fought for kindness and loyalty, whatever the cost may be. Would it not be a pity to destroy a person with such sentiments?
"Even you..." The Holy King was astonished for the first time.
His ten nominal disciples, ordinarily so subservient and obedient under his constant rule, had suddenly spoken out against him, all because of this young manSu Yu!
"Holy King! Please give Su Yu a chance!"
Swish, swish, swish
Countless older prospective Holy Disciples groveled on the ground simultaneously! The will of a hundred people, all joined together as they begged the highest of the nine heavens to reconsiderit was a pleading chorus! They were moved by Su Yu. Unlike countless other men, Su Yu had stood up against the Holy King, all for the sake of one person!
"You all..." The Holy King was furious; all his disciples were defying him, thanks to this Su Yu!
Mind over matter, as they say.
The Holy King could laugh off a single rebel, and two he would quell quickly. But three, he would at least hear their grievances. But a hundred people now stood in opposition.
The Holy King could not help but begin to doubt his decision. His resolve was shaken as he observed all the pleading faces, and he considered things for a moment before his stern, murderous gaze flipped back to Su Yu.
"Alright! I'll give you a chance, I'll give all of you a chance! You can all stay in the Sanctuary again for a month. Then, at the Storm Competition, if you can earn a spot in the top ten, I'll let you stay by my side!"
The Holy King had chosen to give them a chance, but the cost would be exceptionally brutal.
The Holy King focused on Su Yu. "But, Su Yu, in a month, if you fail to reach the ability of a Holy Disciple, what should be your punishment?"
Su Yu was apprehensive. The Holy King was such a legendary martial force, and Su Yu had compelled him to concede. Doing so diminished the Holy Kings' reputation. He had already displayed his generosity by not killing Su Yu where he stood. If Su Yu failed to achieve what he was determined to do within a month, it was obvious what the Holy King would do.
"I know; death!" Su Yu nodded deeply.
"That's right! Death!" the Holy King confirmed coldly. "But, not your deathhers!"
The Holy King's finger pointed outward, and a thread of strange holy power struck Xia Jingyu's body! Xia Jingyu lightly hummed as she felt a destructive power fill her body.
"If I do not take the holy power back she will be overcome and die in a month's time!" The Holy King's icy voice was veiled with anger.
Su Yu's expression changed. "I'm the one who defied you, why are you punishing her?"
The Holy King stormed off. Though he was clearly in front of Su Yu one moment, the next moment he was deep inside the hall. Just a blink and the Holy King was gone! Even if Su Yu were to fully use the space-time manipulation technique, he could never catch up to the Holy King!
The inside of the hall was plunged into darkness as the huge stone door slowly closed.
Before the door fully closed, the apathetic voice of the Holy King echoed outward, "For a man who disregards death, true pain is not their own demise, but that of a loved one..."
Staring at Xia Jingyu, Su Yu was stunned. He tried to express the remorse in his heart but was at a loss for words. He had been the one to bargain with death, but somehow, it had been determined that Xia Jingyu would pay the price.
"Jingyu, I..." Su Yu's guilt was indescribable.
Xia Jingyu looked placid as ever, as she smiled. "I'm fine."
Though she tried to restrain herself, she was unable to hide the slight waver in her voice which revealed her inner instinctive fear of death. Xia Jingyu comfortingly smiled still.
"Su Yu, if you can get Xianer backeven if it means I must diethen I will have no regrets."
Su Yu's heart quivered as he felt pangs of pain. He owed Xia Jingyu a lot and would never be able to repay her.
"Jingyu, I will not let you die!" Su Yu was silent for a long time. He was resolved; he would risk his life for Xianer, and he would save Xia Jingyu.
As she gazed into Su Yu's eyes, Xia Jingyu felt her heart pound. Her fears were appeased by a sense of peace and calm which reverberated in her heart. She smiled brightly, like a summer lotuspure and beautiful.
"Brother Yu, come on." Xia Jingyu's lips pursed lightly and her pretty face slightly blushed with a sunset glow.
With that single phrase, their relationship had grown. Xia Jingyu was fourteen, as was Su Yu. He was only older than Xia Jingyu by a few months. Therefore, Xia Jingyu had never addressed him as "Brother Yu" before. Su Yu was flooded with warm feelings; he owed Jingyu too much! He had to protect her! Su Yu needed to reach the standards of a Holy Disciple, even with only a single month's time to prepare and cultivate his skills!
Qiu Changjian came over. His eyes held a deep admiration. Before this, he'd only just barely appreciated Su Yu.
"Su Yu! You're a good person!" Qiu Changjian praised. His eyes glanced at Xia Jingyu; he was deeply moved and a bit jealous of Su Yu. How lucky he was to have such a loyal, beautiful girl in his life? What else could anyone want?
"Are you confident that you're capable of becoming a Holy Disciple?" Qiu Changjian asked.
"Honestly, I have no clue what those standards are," Su Yu replied bluntly.
Qiu Changjian's eyes flashed as he pronounced each word carefully, "Very simple, defeat me!"
Of the ten great Holy Disciples, Qiu Changjian was ranked tenth. He was the weakest Holy Disciple. In accordance with old rules, one qualified for the Holy Disciples by beating the weakest ranked disciple. Su Yu was shaken!
Qiu Changjian, a Level Nine Lower Tier, could wipe out Su Yu with a snap of his finger. Such a strong man set the lowest standard for becoming a Holy Disciple? Su Yu had to attain Level Nine Lower Tier in order to save Xia Jingyu?!
"I will ask you again; do you have a specific cultivation plan?" Qiu Changjian's eyes gleamed.
Su Yu shook his head. "Go into seclusion to cultivate, and then compare notes from actual combat."
"If you use such a common way of cultivation then you'll be doomed to look on helplessly as beautiful Junior Sister Xia dies a certain death," Qiu Changjian lightly chided him, before he fiercely added, "Master thinks you are incapable of becoming a Holy Disciplehis judgment is not invalid!"
Su Yu felt apprehensive. "I request Senior Brother Qiu to please advise!" he pleaded.
Qiu Changjian's eyes flashed. "Senior Brother can indeed direct you to a path of rapid breakthrough, but it is dangerous and unpredictable with a possible death at every turn. Are you willing to try?" he asked seriously.
Su Yu nodded with nearly no hesitation. "I have already disregarded my own life, but I need to protect Xia Jingyu's." He would rather die than implicate Xia Jingyu.
"Good! You, come with me!" Qiu Changjian said.
Xia Jingyu gracefully breezed over. "I'll go too. In a month I may die anyway, so I may as well."
Qiu Changjian slightly hesitated before he nodded in agreement.
After a long while, they descended from the Heavenly Sanctuary and arrived at the southeast corner of the Mortal Sanctuary. There lay a dense, primeval forest. The territory was vastabout a hundred miles wide. A cold and gloomy atmosphere engulfed the inside of the forest, which made one shudder with fear upon approach.
"That's the Evil Forest. There are countless heinous slayers banished inside; each of their abilities is extraordinary. They are fearsome and are otherwise known as slayers of the Alliance of the Nine Empires. They are cruel, violent, killer devilsthey have raped and murdered countless innocent people. They are not only formidably strong but also savage and cunning. They are extremely difficult to capture."
"The Imperial Alliance asked the Sanctuary for help with collecting these criminals. They asked us to dispatch the Holy Disciples in order to undertake the mission to capture and banish all slayers to the Evil Forest, where they would be forbidden to leave on the threat of execution." How could any slayer truly dare to step out of the forest under the watch of the Holy King?
Xia Jingyu was puzzled. "If they are so vicious, why not bring them to justice? Wouldn't it be a disaster to leave them alive?"
"Very good question," Qiu Changjian complimented them, "Banishing them to the Evil Forest and not killing them gives Sanctuary disciples a good opportunity for true combat! It provides us the chance to struggle in true proximity with real slayers, which stimulates progression for cultivation.
"In a hundred years, many disciples have disappeared from the Sanctuary. Most of them left, but the rest found their eternal rest in the Evil Forest."
Su Yu shuddered; he couldn't help but ask, "Sowhat levels are these slayers at?"
Qiu Changjian looked solemn and deeply concerned. "The lowest level slayer is Level Seven of the Martial Path! The strongest is at Level Nine Lower Tier!"
The lowest level slayer was a Level Seven of the Martial Path? Su Yu and Xia Jingyu gasped! These were indeed the slayers who shook the Alliance of the Nine Empires. It went without saying that defeating each of them would be challenging.
Xia Jingyu found it all difficult to understand. "Senior Brother Qiu, do you mean for us to enter the Evil Forest and fight hand-to-hand with the slayers? We do see the dangers, but where is the opportunity for a breakthrough?"
Life and death combat could indeed advance the cultivation base, but learning from regular dueling was not much weaker. Xia Jingyu did not see how the benefits outweighed the risks.
Qiu Changjian praised her observations, "Very good, you've found the crux of the issue. Life and death combat is truly difficult and doesn't always make one's cultivation base advance by leaps and bounds. But, every slayer's body has a piece of saint grade spirit elixir!"
Su Yu was not unfamiliar with spirit elixirs; he'd ingested them many times. But what was saint grade spirit elixir? He glanced towards Xia Jingyu, but she looked equally puzzled.
"A saint grade spirit elixir was transmuted from the type of spirit elixirs ingested by martial artists of the mortal world; only the ingredients are refined differently. The difference in effect is like heaven and earth.
"In other words, the effect of a hundred top grade spirit elixirs is far inferior to one saint grade spirit elixir. For you two, both Level Five Peak cultivation bases, ingesting a saint grade spirit elixir will promote you to Level Six Upper Tierit will boost you over two tiers!
"Of course, as your cultivation base advances, the spirit elixir's effect will weaken proportionally. It will be difficult to have another major breakthrough. But, to put it bluntly, this is the Sanctuary's fasted method to achieve a breakthrough," Qiu Changjian explained.
Su Yu's breath quickened and Xia Jingyu's eyes glittered. A single breakthrough to Level Six Upper Tier? This would be unimaginable in the mortal world.
"In addition, there are two pieces of divine grade spirit elixir on the bodies of Level Nine criminals! Their effect is even more amazing!" At the mention of divine grade spirit elixirs, Qiu Changjian exposed a brilliant concept.
There were also divine grade spirit elixirs? Saint grade was already so astonishing, how unbelievable would divine grade spirit elixirs be?!