The broad white river meandered along the plain like a ribbon. Past the hills, the mountains, and the forest, it flowed on into a swathe of gray-greenish canyon.
A herd of wild bulls stampeded along the creek as cheetahs flashed among the bushes every now and then.
A black eagle circled the sky, watching its prey on the ground.
A young man cloaked in a gray cape was standing beside a thick old tree in the canyon. Slowly, he lifted up his mask and veiled hat and glanced at the black eagle. Then, his gaze fell towards a broad cliff in the middle of the canyon.
A large fortress rose out of the cliff. It was an intricately designed graying white city.
The city was enveloped by a thick gray wall. Thick sharp spikes protruded out of the wall in all directions. Lots of traffic could be spotted going up and down the mountain path leading to the city entrance.
"Twin Eagle City who would think that this place will become a terrifying nest of devils and Anomalies in a hundred years" The man sighed.
He was Li Shunxi, who had just escaped out of Martial League. Martial League was thoroughly compromised. The League Master went into solitary confinement all of a sudden, leaving those who were framed to be hunted like fugitives. This series of developments, including the deaths of the Liu sisters, hastened the growth and maturity of this twenty year old young man.
"In the future that I saw from the Jade of Secrets, a great calamity is about to befall this place. From top to bottom, the entire Twin Eagle City will fall without a single life spared. White River Sect will be exterminated in a single night, leaving only Bai Qiuling, bearer of the Spirit Giant Blood, to flee for her life." Li Shunxi frowned. "I must find the Spirit Giant Blood, but I cannot watch this tragedy unfold. Ashoka Manor must be behind this again this time, I wont let them succeed again!"
He recalled the scenes from the future that he had witnessed through the Jade of Secrets. The Jade of SecretsLiu Familys highest Divine Weaponwas a trump card that could be wielded only by a person of exceptional talent. It was the Divine Weapon that Ashoka Manor had always sought.
Only after obtaining its complete form did Li Shunxi understand what it really was.
It was a blurry ball of formless light that spun in him. With her death, Liu Qin had sacrificed all her essence blood to it as the price for enabling him to see his destiny. He also saw the location of the bearer of the Spirit Giant Blood. More Importantly, he saw a possibility of defeating Ashoka Manor.
Finding the Spirit Giant Blood was the key to turning the tables on Ashoka Manor.
"The future me will meet my destined partnerBai Qiuling. Bai Family was destroyed, causing Bai Qiuling to step on the road of vengeance like me." Li Shunxi shook his head. "But I reject such a future!" He strode towards Twin Eagle City in the direction of the cliff.
Passing through the large field, Li Shunxi stepped on the mountain path leading into Twin Eagle City. He passed himself off as a foreign tourist and mixed himself with the ranks of a merchant group. With a small tip, he bought his way into the city.
The crowd thronged around him. Every now and then, large patrol teams from sects would pass by.
Li Shunxi entered a teahouse and sat down.
"Sir? What would you like to drink?" A waiter scuttled over.
"Have you got tea?"
"Weve got rock tea, red tea, tender green leaves. Prices are different, so is the texture. But the most popular one is rock tea. Its our speciality here!" the waiter introduced with a face full of smiles. "Rock tea is mild and warms the stomach. Its the most popular thing weve got here!"
"Give me a pot then." Li Shunxi had no concept of money. Although he had been on the run for a while now, he had not been able to correct his spendthrift habit.
Before long, the tea was served. It was clear with a faint red hue. A few tea leaves floated on its surface, adding to its aesthetic appeal.
Li Shunxi sipped a bit. There was sweetness in its bitterness and its aroma was fragrant. A look of satisfaction appeared on his face.
"Yesterday, that Green Snake Fist Li Zhonghao won. Today, Im guessing the Sect Master must send out one of the Seven Lines?" a muscular man who was also drinking tea said as he chewed on a large piece of braised meat in his hand.
"Thats not for certain. Seven Lines are the strongest seven people in our White River Sect. If even they were to be defeated, we would lose too badly. So, Sect Master may not send them out. After all, its just an exchange," another man replied.
"If it were up to me, Sect Master should just marry off Young Miss Qiuling to that Crimson Whale boss. Both factions should strike an alliance. Whats the point of an exchange when theyre all one big family?"
"What do you know? Theyre situated so far apart. Even if they strike a marriage alliance, it wouldnt be useful. Why should we marry Young Miss Qiuling off to suffer far away?"
"Look at you"
Li Shunxi eavesdropped carefully, surprise creeping onto his face.
"Crimson Whale Sect? In a few days, the calamity of extermination will befall White River Sect. In the future I saw, Crimson Whale Sect wasnt in the picture at this crucial moment, was it?"
He had absolute trust in the future he had seen in the Jade of Secrets. It was precisely by its premonitions that he had been able to escape the combined hunt by Ashoka Manor and Scarlet District along the journey.
But now, just days from the date of White River Sects doom, Crimson Whale Sects exchange party showed up out of the blue.
This was the first time reality deviated from his visions, baffling him.
The great calamity is near. That hidden artefact is about to break out of its seal; theres no way to stop it anymore. Whats Crimson Whale Sect doing here at such a critical juncture? Li Shunxi tried to gain more leads from their conversation. Unfortunately, the two of them talked merely about some sect matters before he conversation shifted to some bandits wanted by the authorities.
Li Shunxi left before he finished half of the tea in the pot.
Assessing his whereabouts, he followed the streets and headed straight into the heart of the city.
As he passed several streets, the people on the streets grew scarcer. The stores also grew sparse, replaced by more upper-class residential estates and government buildings.
Every now and then, he even saw some yamen outposts. The horse carriages on the streets were also gradually substituted by more formal-looking government carriages.
After a further distance, Li Shunxi came to a stop.
Standing before him was a tall white gate guarded by officials. Past the gate was a swathe of buildings at the heart of the city.
Both White River Sects headquarters as well as the yamen authorities were situated within.
Li Shunxi peered in through the gate, acting like an ignorant country-folk.
The two officials on sentry had intended to chase him away. But seeing his demeanor, they could not be bothered with him. In their eyes, he was probably just some travelling country lad. They met many such people each year and were used to the sight.
Ashoka Manor has secretly released an evil jade seal hidden by White River Sects Sect Master. Thats whats going to cause the danger hidden in the evil jade to burst out, thoroughly wiping out the entire Twin Eagle City in one night. I need to think of a way to get in there. Regardless of how Ashoka Manor had unlocked the evil jade seal, I need to warn the Sect Master. Perhaps there might be hope yet.
Although Li Shunxi himself understood that the odds were slim, how would one know for sure without trying?
The evil jade... was the key to the extermination of White River Sect and Twin Eagle City.
After pretending to marvel at the scene before him, Li Shunxi hurriedly turned around and left under the increasingly suspecting gaze of the guards.
Rising Eagle Hall, White River Sect.
Bai Zhenming sat on the main seat. On a seat beside him of equal height was a bald muscular man.
This man was Lu Sheng, who had come from Mountain-Edge City for the exchange.
Beneath them, two rows of expert disciples stood separate from each otherWhite River Sect on the left, Crimson Whale Sect on the right. The white and crimson uniforms set them apart clearly as they glared competitively at each other.
Rows of servant ladies served up nuts, fruits, and tea as musicians played a light tune.
"Yesterday, my White River Sect lost a match. But today, Im sending up my Seven Lines. Theyll definitely even the odds!" Bai Zhenming smiled.
He was a mild-mannered middle-aged man which a bookish look that made him look more like a teacher than the Sect Master of a sect over a large region.
In comparison, Lu Shengs aura beside him painted a totally different picture
Even his loose black robes could not hide his muscular figure. Added to that his bald head and lack of eyebrows, his ferocious gaze, tall statues and thick limbs etc. Even the seat could barely contain him.
Two subordinates each carried a giant cleaver, each as long as a man, behind him. They were the giant cleavers that Lu Sheng had just commissioned. The previous pair had been wrecked in his earlier fight.
In contrast to him, Bai Zhenming cut a weak and mild look.
"Youre quite the anxious one, Sect Master Bai. I saw some new guests arriving in the past few days. Since youve got new guests, why dont you introduce them to me, Brother Bai?"
"Oh, those two are friends from my youth. But neither of them like to socialize, so I beg your understanding, Brother Lu," Bai Zhenming declined politely.
Hearing that, Lu Sheng laid the matter to rest, "Fine then. Lets begin the martial arts contest immediately in that case."
Bai Zhenming nodded and gestured with a wave of his hand. Beneath him, the people quickly prepared their shields and weapons. They were going to fight for real, not just playing pretend. In some of the earlier matches, several White River Sect experts had been severely wounded, causing a gloomy mood to descend on the entire White River Sect.
Both sides sent out a representative who walked up to the central platform in Rising Eagle Hall. They bowed at each other and began facing off.
"Im Zhang Sheng, nicknamed King of the Triple-Shadow Kick. Please teach me with your moves, friend," an old man from Crimson Whale Sect declared loudly. This elder loved to fight. Hearing that Lu Sheng was bringing a team for a martial arts exchange, he took the initiative to enlist.
The White River Sect expert opposite him was a middle-aged Taoist nun, who carried a whisk in her hand.
"This humble nun is named Xuan Teng. My weapon of choice is the Iron Whisk. Im one of the Seven Lines of White River Sect. Will you please teach me with your moves, friend."
From this match onwards, both sides began sending out their heavy-hitters. They were both experts at the pinnacle of Intent Proficiency.
Both of them were experts who enjoyed many years of fame in the region they belonged to. This match would affect their reputation; thus, neither of them could afford to lose.
But even as they began the match, Lu Shengs heart was not in it, though he watched the fight from his seat.
For some reason unbeknownst to him, he could not shake off the feeling that something was odd about everyone in White River Sect.
Especially Bai Zhenming. Something mysterious seemed to be hidden on him, emanating an abnormal aura.
Taking advantage of this moment when everybodys attention was focused on the match unfolding beneath the stage, Lu Shengs gaze swept past everyone present subtly.
What he discovered confirmed his suspicions. Unlike the Crimson Whale Sect members, all from White River Sect seemed normal on the surface, but a faint eerie aura emanated from them.
Lu Sheng was unable to discern what exactly that aura was either. But it made him rather uncomfortable.
Just as he was scrutinizing the rest, Lu Sheng suddenly saw a young lady dressed in a tight white hunting short dress dash in from the side door. She attempted to reach Bai Zhenming, but was stopped by the guards near him.
Smiling helplessly, a guard conversed with the young lady for a while, then quickly passed on a message to Bai Zhenming by his ear.