Translator: Nyoi-Bo Studio Editor: Nyoi-Bo Studio
Shangguan Fei’s expression became tense. He had asked this question many times, yet he had gotten just a single odd reply.
The eyes of many people flickered as they examined the mysterious man in the bamboo hat curiously. He had left a deep impression on them when he displayed his great prowess and crushed the Shao family.
Madame Situ furrowed her brows. The Shangguan family’s intentions were clear, and it was obvious that they wanted to snatch a genius like Su Yu away.
As the everyone’s gazes fell upon Su Yu, he found himself incapable of evading everyone’s attention once again. He hesitated for a moment before he took off his bamboo hat as well as his raincoat, and revealed his true appearance.
His aged face stood out among the numerous youthful geniuses like a tall crane amid a flock of little chickens. Everyone was shocked.
The Lesser Palace Mistress, Palace Mistress Kong Chan, who was sitting on a nearby boulder, couldn’t help but also look at him in surprise. As for Madame Situ, the Shao Family’s Master, and many of the talented youths present, they were also stunned, and everyone started exclaiming at once…
“Why is he an old man?”
“Impossible! This is the Red Blood Palace’s recruitment exam, and it’s only open for the younger disciples who are less than twenty! Had the Situ family gone mad? Are they daring to try to cheat here?”
“It isn’t surprising that this person is so strong, even though his cultivation is average. With how old he is, and seeing how broad his experience and techniques are, he would obviously be able to surpass us in battle! Thus, the defeated Shao family’s talented youths were really treated unjustly!”
The crowd was bewildered, and their commentary reflected as much. Situ Yan opened her mouth wide in surprise. She assumed that Su Yu’s seemingly old voice was just due to his unique tone.
“Big-breasted girl, why is Brother Su this… This…” She started hesitating while she was speaking, and it was obvious that she had suffered a great shock.
“Why is he this old? Is that what you wanted to ask, flat-chested girl?” Yuan Yingying pursed her lips and smiled. “If you dislike him, just don’t approach Brother Su again.”
In fact, driving out the flat-chested girl was just what Yuan Yingying desired, and it would be ideal if she could even drive out Zi Xuan along with her!
Situ Yan glared at her angrily as she said, “It’s you who dislike him! I was just surprised. Why should martial artists like us even care about someone’s age?”
Along with one’s length of cultivation, one’s appearance wouldn’t always conform to his actual age, and to add to this enigma, the martial artists weren’t as sensitive to one’s age as mortals.
However, the most truly shocked people here were the Shangguan family members. Shangguan Yunque was startled, and his pupils contracted as he wore a bitter smile and asked, “Brother Su? Is it really you?”
He couldn’t believe that the person, which his father had asked him to invite into the Shangguan family, was none other than their past guest, Su Yu! He had almost become one of the exam’s geniuses, who was recommended by the Shangguan family, but his situation changed slightly, causing him to be deprived of his quota. So, in a certain sense, it could be said that he was driven out by the Shangguan family.
Shangguan Fei’s expression became complicated at this moment. He was clearly dumbstruck, and he couldn’t believe what was happening in front of his very eyes.
He really couldn’t link the current Su Yu with the old man they had driven out in the past. Still trying to reconcile the matter in his mind, he stammered, “Why? How? It’s you?”
The Shangguan Family’s Master raised his brows in surprise at first, as he found the person before him to be slightly familiar. He felt as if he had once seen him somewhere, and it was only after a long while the he finally recalled that he was none other than the youth who was recommended to the Shangguan family by Shangguan Yunque.
His expression became complex for a while after this realization, and his face soon flushed red. Then, a dark cloud seemed to appear over him, turning his countenance gloomy.
After all, Su Yu, who they had driven out, unexpectedly possessed great potential! Remorse, self-blame, embarrassment, and myriad other emotions welled up in his heart.
Su Yu looked at Shangguan Yunque, then said with a smile, “I’m really sorry. I didn’t have enough time to disclose it to you before now.”
Upon hearing this, Shangguan Yunque looked back at his father, whose face was scarlet one moment and dark the other. He shrugged his shoulders, then said, “Brother Su, I thank you on behalf of the Shangguan family for saving them.”
As matters had unfolded, they had all come to understand why the man in the bamboo hate had saved the Shangguan family’s juniors for Shangguan Yunque.
Su Yu waved his hand at him as he said, “Brother Shangguan, it was your Blue Water Nine Heavens Wing that saved my life, so what’s saving your family members in comparison to that?”
As Su Yu was chatting with him for a while, a sweet fragrance drifted over to him. He looked up and saw Madame Situ coming toward him.
She wore a bright smile as she said, “Mister Su, thank you for protecting Yan’er! You should go back to rest and recuperate, as the second round of the exam will begin shortly.”
Su Yu nodded at Shangguan Yunque, then went back to the stone pillar. Shangguan Yunque wore an odd look as he went back to his family’s stone platform. Each person’s expression was peculiar now, especially the Shangguan Family’s Master’s, as he felt too ashamed to even meet his son’s gaze.
Shangguan Yunque felt somehow vindicated now. He had entreated his father many times then, yet his father had obstinately clung to his choice and had driven Su Yu out. But now, Su Yu had astonished everyone with an amazing feat, causing the Shangguan family to become a laughingstock.
“Yunque, why didn’t you inform me earlier that Mister Su was so extraordinary?” The Shangguan Family’s Master asked, clearly embarrassed.
Shangguan Yunque shrugged his shoulders and replied, “Well… I told you about his potential, but you were stubborn and wanted to take care of our family’s juniors instead, so what could I do?”
The Shangguan Family’s Master’s eyes flickered, and he raised his eyes after a short while and looked at Su Yu. He then let out a long sigh and said, “It seems that I misjudged him.”
It was already nearly impossible to invite Su Yu and get him back again. After all, it was easy to drive someone out, but inviting him in again was a different matter entirely. It was much more difficult.
Su Yu went back to the Situ family’s side, consumed Madame Situ’s elixirs, and recuperated quickly. Situ Yan went over to him and chatted with him.
She also questioned him endlessly. She was curious about the strange state of Su Yu’s body.
Madame Situ said, “Mister Su, I’m not really talented but I am slightly skilled in alchemy. Why don’t you stay in my Situ family? If you do, I will look for a way to help your body recover.” She clearly still wanted to bind Su Yu to the Situ family.
“Madame, thank you for your concern, but I already found the source of my problems, and as long as my cultivation continues to advance and I can supplement my life span, my body will recover to its previous state on its own.” Su Yu tactfully declined her offer.
Madame Situ had no choice but to accept his answer, but she still sighed inwardly. She was really imposing herself on him by asking him to stay in the Situ family.
Time elapsed slowly, and after a long while, almost all of the participants had returned. As the Shao Family’s Master looked out at the Fairy Confining Forest, his eyes became filled with anxiety.
Not one member from the Shao family came back, but he still wasn’t really worried, as they had Shao Li and Shao Lingjian with them, and with their combined powers, they shouldn’t be in any danger.
However, when it got to be almost noon, he still hadn’t seen any of them return. This finally made him become uneasy.
“There are only ten minutes left,” Palace Mistress Kong Chan said calmly.
A woman flew back at this moment. It was Shao Li!
The Shao Family’s Master relaxed slightly, and as he went toward her, he said, “Li’er, you came back! But, what about Lingjian and the others? Why are you the only one who has returned?”
Shock appeared on Shao Li’s face, which was slightly pale, as she replied, “Family Master, didn’t they come back before me?”
The Shao Family’s Master’s whole body stiffened at this moment, and he felt like his heart had fallen in a bucket of cold ice. “They didn’t… Didn’t you all agree to meet back in a specific place before returning together?”
Shao Li’s face turned pale and her lips shivered as she replied, “I hunted the high-grade demonic beasts alone according to your request before going to join them in the appointed location. But, when I got there, I didn’t see anyone! I assumed that they didn’t wait for me and had returned in advance.”
The Shao Family’s Master’s mind was reeling, as he was greatly shocked to hear such news. “Where are they?” he stammered.
Shao Li became slightly restless, but she forced herself to calm down as she attempted to console him, “Family Master, don’t worry! There isn’t anyone capable of harming them, not with how powerful Lingjian is! They were just probably moving at a slower pace than me. Surely they are still running around in the forest.”
The face of the Shao Family’s Master recovered some luster with great difficulty, and he determined to await their arrivals calmly and expectantly, while believing for the best. As such, his eyes, which were still filled with anxiety, looked to stare in the Fairy Confining Forest’s direction.
All of a sudden, someone flew toward them from a distant place. The pupils of the Shao Family’s Master contracted, but when he looked at the person arriving, he noticed that it was Zi Xuan, the person who was hired by the Situ family.
She flew around confidently and with great ease before she landed at Su Yu’s side. She then said to him, “Let’s have a talk alone after the end of the exam. I need to talk to you about something.”
Su Yu’s heart thumped as he wondered… Did she discover my true identity?
“There are only five minutes left.” Palace Mistress Kong Chan announced as she swept her gaze over the Shao Lingjian’s stone pillar. She was bewildered to see it so empty!
All of the families’ disciples had suffered grave casualties due to the Beast Tide, and more than two-tenths of the participants had died. But luckily, there were still some survivors.
However, only one person from the Shao family came back, which is why their stone pillar seemed so empty and isolated. It was very conspicuous!
Time elapsed slowly, while the Shao Family’s Master’s eyelids became heavy. He was exhausted, but he kept his eyes locked on the Fairy Confining Forest, hoping that Shao Lingjian’s group would come back soon.
However, the Fairy Confining Forest was calm and completely silent, not even a rustle occurred among its leaves.
“It’s time,” Palace Mistress Kong Chan announced calmly before standing up slowly and instructing, “Envoy elders, start counting people who passed the test.”
The Shao Family’s Master stumbled back in shock and despair when he heard this, as his last glimmer of hope had just been extinguished. Shao Lingjian and the others had surely suffered an accident, which must be what had prevented them from coming back. There were only two explications for where they were now… They were either trapped somewhere… Or they were dead!
“Li’er, do you any idea about what happened to them? Do you know who attacked them?” The Shao Family’s Master’s tone was gloomy and somewhat terrifying.
Shao Li’s whole body shivered, and as she shook her head, she surveyed the surroundings. She suddenly noticed Su Yu and asked in surprise, “Who is this old man? Why didn’t I see him before?”
“His name is Su Yuxian, but don’t bother yourself about him. I asked you… Who is responsible for this?”
“What? He’s the bamboo-hatted man? Impossible!” Shao Li’s eyes flickered as she connected the dots. “He was in the Hundred Beast Valley when the Beast Tide erupted, and even if he was more powerful, it would still be impossible for him to have escaped such a situation alive!”
Shao Yueming’s raised his brows and looked at Su Yu fixedly, while he asked in a deep voice, “Well.. Do you mean to say that it can’t be him?”
“I’m not sure, exactly. But, we still can’t rule out either possibility. After all, he might have wanted to take revenge against the Shao family. Out of all the talented youths, he was the only one who let Shao Lingjian and the others suffer troubles that would prevent them from coming back!” Shao Li spoke coldly, as she found Su Yu to be quite suspicious.
Shao Yueming’s eyes flickered with a ferocious glint. He then took a step forward, went over to the Situ family’s stone pillar, and took big strides toward Su Yu as he asked, “Where are my Shao family’s juniors?”
While he stood before Su Yu, he tried in vain to use his imposing aura to put pressure on Su Yu’s mind. As she saw this, shock appeared on Madame Situ’s face, while her body’s Divine Master’s power surged forth and extinguished his aura.
She then furrowed her refined brows and chided, “Shao Yueming, you are bullying us too much!”
He then went directly to their stone pillar and started interrogating her people, without giving any due respect to her Situ family! He then said, “Madame Situ, all of my Shao family’s talented youths have gone missing, and if you want to try to obstruct me from finding out the truth behind this matter, I don’t mind fighting you!”
Shao Yueming’s eyes were bloodshot, and he behaved like a cornered wild beast. Seeing his current mood, Madame Situ shuddered and clenched her teeth.
When she was about to try to obstruct him, Su Yu shrugged his shoulders, while wearing a bewildered look, and said, “Shao Family’s Master, you are really baffling! Each of your Shao family’s youths had peerless talent, so why are asking me why they didn’t manage to come back?”
Shao Yueming replied in a deep voice, “Lad, I won’t blather on pointlessly with you here any longer. I’m just asking you… Where are they now?”
Su Yu looked at him calmly and said, “I don’t know.”
Shao Yueming repressed his killing intent and surveyed the Situ family’s juniors. He then asked them coldly, “As for you all, did any of you see them?”
A confused look appeared on all of the faces of the Situ family’s juniors. They had being hunted by the Shao family, and it was only because of Situ Jiu that they had managed to escape. So, as they were too busy fighting to survive, they couldn’t possibly be aware of the Shao family’s juniors current situation!
It was Situ Jiu alone whose gaze flickered at this moment. Even though he had lost consciousness, he still faintly knew that it was the bamboo-hatted man, Su Yu, who had appeared and saved him.
In other words, the bamboo-hatted man was the last person to come into contact with the Shao family’s juniors. So, Situ Jiu couldn’t help but wonder… Was it him who…
As a Divine Master possessed great eyesight, even the subtle changes on Situ Jiu’s face couldn’t escape from Su Yu’s eyes.
Immediately, Shao Yueming’s body flickered as he appeared before Situ Jiu and held his shoulders. He then shouted sharply, asking him, “What do you know? Speak!”
Situ Jiu was shocked, and as he faced a Divine Master’s powerful aura and interrogation, his knees went soft and he almost fell to the ground. He then stammered a reply, “I… I don’t know anything. Our Situ family’s disciples were hunted down by your Shao Lingjian, and I was heavily injured by Shao Lingjian and lost consciousness. When I woke up, I found myself here!”
When all of the families heard this, they all gasped and began to wonder…
How could Situ Jiu do such a thing?
Did they hunt down the Situ family’s disciples?
The Red Blood Palace still prohibited such things. Thus, the Shao family might be in big trouble if that information was divulged here.
“Impudent fool! You are slandering our Shao family! Do you have a deathwish?” Shao Yueming looked at him angrily and shouted at him in a deep voice. This scared Situ Jiu greatly, causing his whole body to shiver.
Situ Yan was also afraid of him, but she still bit her rosy lips and said, “What a joke! How can your mere words prove anything? Were our Situ family’s dozen juniors blind, not knowing even who was hunting them?”
Upon hearing her bold words, Shao Yueming looked over at her with an admonishing gaze. On the Shangguan family’s side, after Shangguan Fei got a suggestion from his Family Master, he summoned his courage and said, “Our Shangguan family can also testify to truth of this matter. The Shao family’s disciples hunted us too, and they even assassinated our Level Five Fairy! Afterwards, we witnessed them hunting the Situ family!”
After this declaration, the truth was clear. After all, testimonies from two sides was undeniable proof.
Palace Mistress Kong Chan’s eyes snapped open slowly, while a cold glint appeared in them. However, she still wore an amiable yet dignified expression as she said, “The outer sanctum Law Enforcement Division will investigate this matter, and if they confirm that the Shao family violated the rules, they will surely be punished.”
She then added, “As for now, Shao Family’s Master, please go back to your stone pillar. In a short while, the Law Enforcement Division will go into the Fairy Confining Forest and look for your family’s disciples. We will reconvene to debate this issue then.”
Internal strife was a common occurrence in the Red Blood Palace, and as such, the powers that be weren’t willing or able to look into every little squabble. Moreover, since not one of the Shao family’s disciples had returned, there was a high possibility that they had all been killed. At the moment, all they could do was wait, leaving the matter unsettled for now.
However, Shao Yueming wasn’t willing to accept this, and he glared at Su Yu like a wild beast. He knew that the disappearances of Shao Lingjian and the others was surely related to him somehow.
But, as he knew that he couldn’t deal with him at the moment, he returned to his family’s stone pillar unwillingly. Then, while still holding onto a glimmer of hope in his heart, he said, “Li’er, you should focus on passing the exam, while I go into the forest to look for them. If Lingjian suffered any harm, I will be sure that kid suffers a tragic end!” After all, Shao Lingjian was the Shao family’s sole inheritor, so it was vital that he mustn’t suffer any harm!
The envoys’ inspection started. As they all inspected the juniors on the stone who they were responsible for, Elder Li wore a faint smile. He was clearly feeling quite proud of the juniors as he examined the corpses that they brought.
When it was Situ Yan’s turn, Elder Li said kindly, “You are a Level One Fairy. Thus, you must kill twenty demonic beasts at the same level. Were you able to get enough? Take them out for me to inspect.”
Situ Yan smiled at him craftily and announced, “I only killed one.”
Elder Li’s face stiffened, and as he looked at Madame Situ, he shot her a look of deepest apologies. As they were now in front of Palace Mistress Kong Chan, he couldn’t help them at all!
However, when Situ Yan took out the Level Two Fairy Realm Demonic Flame Snake, Elder Li’s pupils contracted slightly. He immediately took it in his palm and stuck a talisman on the Demonic Flame Snake’s corpse.
At that moment, a peculiar scene occurred. Countless specks of light appeared on the Demonic Flame Snake. Specifically, they were all on its wounds, which were the results of numerous attacks.
“All of the light specks are the same color, and the Vital Energy’s fluctuation on them belong to Situ Yan. This inspection confirms that it was killed by Situ Yan alone, and that no one intervened to help!” Elder Li declared this shocking news in front of everyone.
If someone had helped, even if he had just constricted the demonic beast, he would still have left a different Vital Energy fluctuation on the demonic beast. Thus, the light specks wouldn’t be all the same color. Hence, if anyone had intervened to help, it could be have been easily detected.
When the crowd heard him, they weren’t at all surprised by the fact that Situ Yan had managed to pass the test, but they were amazed by the fact that she was capable of killing a demonic beast that was higher than her by an entire level!
The Shangguan Family’s Master looked at Situ Yan in awe and asked, “It’s rumored that the Situ family’s current generation’s main descendant is adept in formations. Is this really true?”
Shangguan Yunque was startled by his question. “Formations? This is a talent that is highly valued by the Red Blood Palace. If this is true, an extraordinary genius has indeed been born into the Situ family!”
The reply to this question was clearly written on Madame Situ’s face as she looked contentedly at her daughter. Elder Li also wore a smile as he continued inspecting the Situ family’s disciples one by one.
There were eighteen people altogether, and in the end, twelve of them managed to pass the test. This number was higher by a whole fold than it had been in the past several years.
This was due to the Beast Tide, which had caused a large number of low-grade demonic beasts to roam all over the place. Thus, killing them was easier. Otherwise, the number of people who passed the test would be much lower, at least by half.
However, Su Yu’s appearance still caused many families to dread them, and they didn’t dare attack them in secret. This was the most important reason for their restraint.
Finally, it was Su Yu’s and his two companions’ turns. Zi Xuan threw out a Level Two Fairy Realm Purple Lightning Deer casually. When Elder Li inspected it, he found it to be slightly baffling, as he couldn’t find any wound upon it. Clearly, it had suffered a very strange death, but as the Vital Energy’s fluctuation that was left on it clearly belonged to Zi Xuan, he passed.
Yuan Yingying also managed to pass, and when Elder Li inspected the beast, his pupils contracted slightly as he asked for confirmation, “A soul attack?”
He then took a deep breath and looked at Yuan Yingying, while revealing a faint and amiable smile. Elder Li’s gaze then fell upon Su Yu as he said, “Take out your corpses.”
Su Yu looked at the surroundings, then said, “There isn’t enough space here. Elder Li, you can just have a look at my spatial ring.”
All of the people were startled when they heard him say this, and they couldn’t help but wonder… There isn’t enough space? How many demonic beasts did he kill?
Elder Li was also flabbergasted. Then, when he received the spatial ring and looked at its contents, his pupils couldn’t help but contract. There weren’t really many demonic beasts there, as there were just thirty. But, each beast was a high-grade demonic beast, which had a giant build!
Moreover, the weakest was still at the Level Three Fairy Realm, and there were nine Blaze Leopards, which Su Yu had killed quite casually! As for Level Four Fairy Realm demonic beasts, there were fifteen of those!
Shock appeared in Elder Li’s gaze when he witnessed the four Level Five Fairy Realm demonic beasts especially. If he knew that Su Yu had only hunted beasts for a single day because of various reasons, he would have probably been even more shocked!
Elder Li sucked in a breath of cold air. He rarely witnessed such a large number of killed high-grade demonic beasts!
We seem to have found a talented child indeed!’ Elder Li thought, trying hard to conceal his excitement and remain neutral.
When Elder Li started counting the points that Su Yu had gained, he suddenly discovered an unremarkable scarlet corpse among the heap of giant demonic beasts. It was a scarlet marten!
“A scarlet marten?” Elder Li was startled. He then muttered was he was thinking back about it, “Marten demonic beasts only appear in the depths of the Fairy Confining Forest! Moreover, there is…”
All of a sudden, shock appeared on Elder Li’s face and he broke off in mid-sentence, as if he had just recalled something important. He then exclaimed, “A scarlet marten? The Devilish Eye Scarlet Marten?”
Shock was apparent in his shining eyes as he stared at the Devilish Eye Scarlet Marten’s corpse. His gaze was filled with shock, yet it was also grave for some unknown reason.
Elder Li quickly averted his gaze from it and looked at Su Yu. He then said, while wearing a solemn expression, “After the end of the second test, you must stay behind alone, as Palace Mistress Kong Chan may have something to discuss with you.”
Su Yu was taken aback by these strange instructions, so he asked, “Did I make a mistake?”
Elder Li hesitated for a while before he replied in a grave tone, “Yes… You made a grave mistake. You shouldn’t have killed this Devilish Eye Scarlet Marten. It had a special status, and now you have brought great trouble upon yourself by killing it.”
Su Yu’s expression became grave upon hearing such bad news.