426 Newcomers

    Samsara Square was eerily quiet and empty. Only the sculptures of mythical creatures and beasts could vaguely be seen through the mist at the edge. Jiang Zhiwei and the others had yet to arrive, causing Meng Qi to suspect that their newcomer tasks were all different.

    All of a sudden, a bright ray of sunlight appeared before him and an unsophisticated-looking ring dropped onto the floor.

    "What's this?" Meng Qi made a grabbing motion with his right hand and the force generated pulled the ring over into his palm. It was a metallic black with no patterns. However, it was dark and deep behind its crude and simple appearance, making one feel his gaze was being sucked into it.

    "A courtyard thousands of miles away is but a shadow flashing by..." Meng Qi read the words inscribed on the ring and suddenly understood the cause-and-effect nature. The ring had to be a reward from Yun Zhongzi for completing the mission he had set-- a Space Ring. "It seems that The Immortals' jade pillar is indeed the same as a clone of the Dominator. As long as an object is placed inside it and an owner is specified, it'll appear directly in the square once I've entered Samsara."

    He projected his will outwards and recited the words while dripping a drop of blood on the ring in replacement of the standard manner of marking it as his own. Then, he activated the Space Ring.

    Compared to the one he had obtained from Dongyang Villa, this Space Ring had a storage space almost several times larger. He could keep many more items compared to before. It made him truly admire Yun Zhongzi's crafting talent.

    In the Space Ring, there was a letter written by Yun Zhongzi expressing his thanks to "Heavenly Primogenitor" for finding Jin Li's whereabouts. He also mentioned that he had previously encountered the demonic cult from the main world during a Samsara task. They apparently had secret techniques enabling them to completely seal their Demon Odor. Unless one was several times more powerful and intentionally attempted to size them up, noticing their demon descent would not be possible. He warned Meng Qi to be careful of it, lest he unknowingly be harmed by the demonic cult.

    "The Shen family seems to possess such a secret technique..." Meng Qi furrowed his brows as he contemplated this and headed over to the Central Light Pillar. He placed the True Emperor Seal and Iron Lump in it for the Dominator to appraise.

    "True Emperor Seal, a human treasure... scarce, of the Exterior level. It contains the breath of Sword of the Human Sovereign and can improve the Destined Ruler and increase one's fortune. It is also largely beneficial to human martial art skills... It is worth 5,000 Karma points. Since this item does not exist in the Exchange List, there will be no reductions if it is exchanged for Karma points..."

    "Leftover material from the Sword of the Human Sovereign, containing scraps of White Pure Gold, essence of Heptaureate, metal from stars, Ninth Palace Heavenly Gold, and other materials melded together in Dragon Platform's fire. It is top-grade material for refining or strengthening Precious Weapons, worth 3,500 Karma points."

    "The True Emperor Seal is really worth quite a lot..." Meng Qi grit his teeth at the painful thought of losing half of its benefits. However, it did make sense since karma secret techniques had always been highly-valued, and Sikong Tu's was probably at least near 2,000 Karma points. On top of that, he would be able to balance it out with Karma Fruit's benefits. He could not sell it to Old Zhao the Fifth at its original price anyway; he would have to cut it down to 80 or 90 percent.

    Whereas the Iron Lump had put Meng Qi into a predicament. "Should I exchange it for Karma points, or use it to strengthen Heaven Inflicted Pain or Flowing Fire?"

    His base was Eight Nine Mysteries and weapons were just additional accessories nowhere near Jiang Zhiwei's level of swordsmanship. Changing to his sword or saber was not that big a deal, but training a weapon to the point of familiarity or even tacit understanding required it to be used countless times. Its impact on his strength might not be huge, but it was most definitely present. Hence, unless necessary, Meng Qi would not want to change his weapon, for even the slightest improvement brought about by their mutual understanding could be the difference between life and death for him.

    "Materials are difficult to come by, and I can only sell it to the Dominator for 1,300 Karma points. It'll be much more worth it if it is adopted to strengthen my Precious Weapon..." After careful consideration, Meng Qi put his foot down. Since he had the Gist of Trueness impartation of the first form of The Buddha's Palm, he could comprehend and develop his Kung Fu skills anytime to exchange them for Karma points. With the gains from future missions on top of that, 10,000 Karma points was not that distant a goal.

    However, he currently only had 120 Karma points on him, an insufficient amount to exchange for the materials required to assist the strengthening of his weapon. So, he decided to allow the Dominator to appraise the Vajra Seal he had just developed.

    "Vajra Seal, an Exterior-level technique derived from Vajra's strength. It eliminates troubles concerning External Devils and is not confined to the fist, palm or finger. It is worth 1,500 Karma points. Since it does not exist on the Exchange List, it can be exchanged at its original value."

    Meng Qi's lips curled into a smile. He was delighted! As expected, the techniques he had developed himself were not the same; "the Dominator of Samsara in the Six Realms did not have them!"

    With that 1,500 Karma points, he would have enough points to strengthen his Precious Weapon.

    However, Meng Qi did not immediately exchange it for Karma points, because there were many different ways in which he could improve his weapons, whether it was Heaven Inflicted Pain or Flowing Fire. The Dominator's Exchange List contained numerous Weapon-refining Instructions. Even if he limited the main material to Iron Lump, there were still many of them, and different options of refining the weapons required different assisting materials to be exchanged. He had to carefully think it through before taking action.

    Therefore, Meng Qi decided that after the newcomer-guiding task, he would ask for his team members' opinions to see what they suggested. He particularly valued Jiang Zhiwei's input, since she was from Sword Washing Pavilion and regarded the strengthening of weapons with utmost importance. She would have a very deep understanding of it, and would perhaps know of some secret refining methods or could select the option with the most value-for-money. In any case, it was unlikely for the newcomer mission to be dangerous. He had already been disallowed from fighting, a measure to prevent him from disrupting the difficulty of the level evidently.

    Moreover, as promised, he would first have to ask Jiang Zhiwei and the others whether he should practice Vajra Seal before exchanging it for Karma points.

    Of course, Meng Qi did not have to think very hard to know that they would not have a shred of interest in a Kung Fu skill like that that relied on brute force.

    "Alright, guess I'll wait for the newbies then." Meng Qi dusted his hands and relaxed. He began disguising himself, tucking Heaven Inflicted Pain away into the Space Ring, putting Flowing Fire back into its deep black scabbard, and putting on a set of white robes...

    A while later, four pillars of light shot down from the air. Thick puffs of fog billowed until they had fully dispersed, revealing two men and two women.

    One of the men was garbed in black clothes with a long thin sword with a pattern hanging from his waist. He had a long face but seemed to be full of spirit and energy. The other man was wearing plain blue robes and appeared to be an average joe. If not for the judge pen in his hand, he could be easily mistaken for an accountant.

    Of the two women, one was in a pale green dress and could only be considered to have delicate features, seemingly from a small family. The other was clad in a festive red color, but her appearance was rather frightening. Not only was she fat, she also had a wide forehead and a Yin and Yang face that was partially covered with a red birthmark.

    They all appeared to be relatively young. After they arrived in Samsara Square, the confused expressions on their faces clearly showed that they were at a loss.

    The man in black clothes and the woman in red with the Yin and Yang face seemed slightly less alarmed. After the initial shock, they scanned their surroundings and braced themselves for any sudden attacks.

    "Welcome to Samsara of the Six Realms." Out of the blue, there was a cheery voice in their ears.

    "Who's there?" The four of them looked over, only to see a young man sitting cross-legged before the light pillar that seemed to be some kind of holy treasure. He had bright eyes, straight eyebrows that pointed upwards, and a delicate smile was painted across his face. A long sword was balanced across his knees, covered by his white robes. He appeared passive and casual.

    Meng Qi smiled. "I'm your guide."

    Noticing the man in black's eyes narrow and his grip on his sword hilt tighten, Meng Qi seemed to laugh and proceeded. "If it were me, I would be extra careful around someone who was able to bring me here without my knowledge at all. I wouldn't act rashly and gamble with my life."

    With that, the four newcomers were visibly shaken up. They stared at one another and refrained from making any careless moves. Finally, the woman in red with the Yin and Yang face spoke up. "Senior, why have you captured and brought us to this place? You are omnipotent, so why do you disturb us weaklings?"

    They were caught in a strange situation, so they did not dare underestimate Meng Qi, despite his youthful appearance.

    "I am also a victim. Let me share my story with you..." Meng Qi briefly summarized how he had ended up there, mentioning only the important events that had transpired.

    To the four newcomers, his white robes fluttering in the breeze, the way he spoke with fervor and openness, and his enigmatic smile made his story all the more hard to believe.

    After a while, they regained their composure, each one sporting different expressions. Some of them had their eyebrows tightly knitted together, and others seemed to be subtly expectant.

    "Senior, you said that as long as we have sufficient Karma points, we will be able to exchange them for any item from the Dominator of Samsara in the Six Realms. Then will it be possible for me to remove this birthmark from my face?" The girl in red was the first to raise a question, her breathing slightly rapid.

    Meng Qi smiled and replied, "I can't be considered your senior, so you may address me as 'Sir'. Removing the birthmark from your face won't cost more than 20 Karma points."

    He had never actually asked about it and was giving an answer off the top of his head, but he believed that it would be around that price.

    The girl in red took a few deep breaths and cupped one hand in the other before her chest. "Thank you, sir."

    Meng Qi gently patted the body of his sword and gave them a carefree smile. "Since you're already comrades, it would be best if you all announced your names and aspirations. That will allow you to advance as a team and go through hardship together. Afterall, who would believe some sneaky fellow hiding things about himself?"

    Meng Qi was becoming a bit playful, asking the newcomers to describe their dreams on purpose to see how they would answer.

    The girl in red took the initiative to begin. "I am Yuanyang, from the remote South. I want to remove this birthmark and become a gorgeous beauty, possessing the strength to protect myself so that the people who used to mock me will die of vexation."

    There was a hint of naivety in her voice that revealed her young age.

    "What an amazing aspiration..." Meng Qi almost burst into laughter. A child's words really did carry no harm. There was such innocence!

    "I am Min Renlong, a disciple of the Tai Mountain Sect. I have already opened my Eye Apertures and hope to build a reputation for myself in Jianghu." The man in black robes answered with the most standard dream for anyone in Jianghu.

    "Tai Mountain Sect's disciple?" Besides the lady in red, the other two newcomers stared at Min Renlong in shock. They had not thought that he was a disciple of a mainstream martial arts sect and were envious of him.

    The Tai Mountain Sect was one of the Six Powerful Societies, and a North Zhou Dynasty mainstream martial arts sect.

    The woman in pale green robes with delicate features was rather reserved. "I am Weng Lingyu, from River East. I come from a normal family and my father is an escort. I do not wish to marry early and end up being trapped in my little town for the rest of my life."

    Her words were full of anticipation. It was as if the dangers of the Dominator of Samsara in the Six Realms were purely imaginary, while her hopes that had once been dashed were now within reach.

    "I am Wu Xiuxian from the Zhong prefecture. I am the heir of a small sect and wish to try for the position of a Martial Presented Scholar and become a Governor Arrester in the future," said the man in blue who was holding the judge pen.

    It seemed as though he was too embarrassed to mention the name of his sect in front of someone from the Tai Mountain sect, since he felt like no one would know it anyway.

    Meng Qi was inwardly chuckling at all of them, but appeared to be calm and at ease listening to them finish their introductions. Then, he slowly rose to his feet and seemed to smile. "As your guide, I will not interfere too much with the completion of your mission. Therefore please remember to be very cautious. Do not forget about the Jianghu experiences your elders have told you about."

    He remembered how he, Jiang Zhiwei and Qing Jing had messed up during their first mission due to a lack of experience. Their carelessness had resulted in one of them suffering an injury and had left another dead. Otherwise, with the strength of a team, not too many of their members should fall.

    As for the four newcomers, only Min Renlong and Wu Xiuxian had opened their Eye Apertures, while Weng Lingyu and Yuanyang had just achieved advanced Qi-cultivation. That was an aspect that they had to be careful of.

    Just as he finished speaking, their surroundings began to dim. Meng Qi realized that he and the others had appeared in a corner of the lobby of an inn, seated around a table.

    "You may not harm others on purpose..." Meng Qi mulled over the Dominator's restriction while casually asking the group, "What is your task?"

    The genuine Qi he projected vibrated, keeping his voice close by.

    Yuanyang, Weng Lingyu, and the others had been taken aback by the mysterious change and could not regain their composure for a moment. Only after some time had passed did Min Renlong answer, "Within seven days, we must assassinate the chieftain of Iron Heart Hall, 'Evil-parting Sword' Fu Cuo."
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