447 Heading Up North

    It was the height of summer, but the mountain breeze was still cool. Meng Qi descended the mountain along the path and left Sword Washing Pavilion in no time. Gao Lan, who had been waiting outside, appeared in his view.

    Gao Lan nodded his head and said with dead seriousness, "The Seven-foot Sword she speaks of refers to herself, and it corresponds to the two 'I's afterward. In the Virtue Classic, the first 'I' refers to her physical body, the outer her, while the second 'I' refers to her inner self, the real her. The two hold very different meanings. In the past, Primogenitor Nanhua once said 'I lost me'."

    "It's not like I don't know that..." Meng Qi shot him a look.

    "Haha." Gao Lan laughed dryly. "I'm just trying to find something to talk about. In all honesty, what's there to fear about the Life-risking Hermetic Training? All she needs to do is make it out. It's not like you can't marry her; you can always chase her. When that time comes, you just have to make sure you're willing to swallow your pride and put in some painstaking effort..."

    Meng Qi stared at Gao Lan from the corner of his eyes. "Come on, let's go get a drink."

    "Sure, drink away your sorrows." Gao Lan clapped his hands together.

    The area outside Sword Washing Pavilion spontaneously formed a small town bazaar. Instead of heading to a restaurant's VIP room, Gao Lan and Meng Qi carried a jug of Drunken Immortal each and sat on the ground under a wall about half a man tall situated at the end of the town. With their backs to the damaged wall, they gazed at the wild grass and the blue sky before them while munching on the pig trotters, beef and other food that they had just bought, drinking quietly.

    They drank together in silence as a strange atmosphere settled around them. Then, Gao Lan tried to make conversation again. After gulping down a few mouthfuls of wine, he coarsely wiped his mouth and began, "Third Brother, don't say I didn't teach you about love. Once you've made up your mind, you must persevere and pester her..."

    Meng Qi was about to stop him from saying anything further concerning the matter, but Gao Lan suddenly changed the topic and continued talking in a tone that sounded proud yet emotional. "I remember how she had also set her heart on Bodhi back then. She was merciful at heart and was solely focused on Buddhism. She even shaved her head after that. But what happened in the end? I still managed to capture her heart and she stayed by my side."

    He was beaming with pride, when that expression suddenly cracked and a melancholy tone crept into his voice. "If she had really gone down the lonely path of a Buddhist, she would probably still be alive! I was the one who harmed her. I was the one who harmed her!"

    Gao Lan downed his wine in an almost deranged manner. He slapped the ground and shouted, "I killed all those who were trying to hurt her one by one. Back then, Changle had been thrown into a bloody terror for seven days and there was nothing but sobbing and crying all around. B-but she didn't make it in the end..."

    It seemed like he was on the verge of breaking into song to relieve his sorrow.

    "Nothing is definite in this world. Maybe when you've reached the level of Heaven Sovereign and the others, you might be able to bring her back to life?" Meng Qi's facial muscles twitched a little.

    Gao Lan was supposed to be keeping him accompany as he drank his sorrows away, so why was he comforting him instead all of a sudden? Was he supposed to sing with him to relieve his sadness again?

    "That's true!" Gao Lan slapped his thigh and changed the topic yet again. "Those fellows had been a thorn in my side for too long. In the public's eyes, they belonged to the major aristocratic families and were vassals of the imperial family, but they actually worked with sects in secret and shamelessly sought personal gain. I have no regrets killing them off!"

    "That's why I'm envious of people like you from the Southern Jin Dynasty. Power between the aristocratic families and sects is balanced and you don't have to end up as someone's lackey!"

    Meng Qi was a Rogue Cultivator, so he had no bias towards sects or aristocratic families. In response to Gao Lan's venting, he could only sip away at his wine while keeping his opinions to himself.

    "Now, I've finally more or less taken that step too. Sooner or later, I'll make sure justice is served. I'll turn their lives upside down!" Gao Lan got to his feet, wine jug in hand, and pointed at the gradually rising moon. He jabbed his finger at it while angrily guzzling his wine.

    "So he really is a Dharmakaya already..." Meng Qi had drank quite a bit of Drunken Immortal by then and his head was starting to get a little cloudy. Despite that, it did not impair his thinking nor his ability to elicit important information from Gao Lan's lamenting.

    "Big Brother, since the heavens bestowed on you such an immense responsibility, they would first have to make you suffer emotional pain and physically tire you out to strengthen your will from within. You can say that your misfortune is a blessing." Meng Qi sighed.

    Gao Lan burst into hearty laughter with a self-satisfied look on his face. "That's true. Not many people are worth my time nowadays!"

    "Is it those masters above the Celestial Rankings?" Meng Qi asked excitedly. He wanted to hear about Gao Lan's evaluations of the ten Dharmakayas.

    Gao Lan slapped the side of his wine jug and scoffed. "Them? Ha! Gu Erduo wields Heaven-killing Axe and receives a lot of assistance, but has still never managed to suppress Chonghe or Luda! What kind of Celestial Rank is he?"

    "He's really talking about Dharmakayas while drinking wine..." Meng Qi wiped off some cold sweat and imitated Liubei's manner of speech, saying, "How about Senior Chonghe? He's made a name for himself for over 200 years. I wonder how far he's progressed down the path of a Dharmakaya."

    "Chonghe? That man hasn't had a breakthrough and is already old. He's hit his limit and has one foot in the grave!" Gao Lan dismissively waved his hand in the air.

    "Then what about Shaolin Temple's divine monk, His Abbotship Kong Wen? As of now, he is the only one with battle records of killing or suppressing Dharmakaya masters." Meng Qi dutifully played his part as a supporting role in their conversation.

    However, he was also a little too excited due to the alcohol's influence. It was rare to hear powerful masters on the same level comment on Dharmakayas, so he was filled with curiosity and interest.

    Gao Lan clicked his tongue. "It's uncertain whether Han Guang is alive or not. He may have escaped with severe injuries. Kong Wen probably also sustained serious damage. He's no longer as strong and mighty as he used to be, so he hasn't fought anyone in a long time. How could I possibly bully an old and injured man like him?"

    Abbotship Kongwen was no longer as strong? Meng Qi went into a trance for a moment, suddenly recalling Jiang Zhiwei and Zhang Yuanshan's description of the events that had transpired in Qi Xia. It seemed that the rumors were true!

    Without waiting for Meng Qi to snap out of his daze, Gao Lan continued with his comments. "Luda..."

    He paused. His expression gradually turned frosty and the words that came out of his mouth were a cold and cruel exclamation: "Someday, Luda and I will fight to the death."

    "I?" Although he was somewhat tipsy, Meng Qi noticed that Gao Lan had changed his way of addressing himself.

    He unconsciously lifted his head, and saw Gao Lan's cold and merciless gaze.

    Gao Lan hurled the wine jug aside and stood up, his hands folded behind his back. He gave off the feeling you get viewing deep waters and towering mountains. The messy, matted hair on his head magically smoothed out and his facial hair fell off strand by strand, revealing a handsome face.

    Based solely on his appearance, he seemed to be only around 30 years old or so. His features were well-defined, and he had straight, upward-slanting eyebrows and large, bright eyes. In addition to the tall nose bridge that sat above his thin lips, he looked rather fickle. When matched with his emotionless stare and mature air, he gave off a tremendously oppressive aura.

    Meng Qi had always thought that his own looks were pretty decent, but they could not compare to Gao Lan's. Moreover, his appearance did not hold a single shred of femininity, unlike the delicate-looking Wang Siyuan.

    "As expected, the outstanding looks of the Gao Family from Chang Le are symbolic..." Meng Qi thought suddenly.

    Apart from their reputation in Kung Fu, the Gao Family from Chang Le was best known for their extraordinary appearance and violent personality.

    Gao Lan icily stared at Meng Qi, causing a sense of danger to seize the latter. Meng Qi could feel the tail end of his spine numbing as sweat drenched his back. Even his Vital Spirit seemed to become a little sluggish and countless scenes started appearing in his mind. It was as if Gao Lan was about to kill him in the very next second!

    "Why has the air around him changed so much? Does he suffer from split-personality disorder as well? Mad Prince, Mad Prince... Indeed there are names that have been wrongly given, but never nicknames..." Meng Qi gripped his wine jug tightly. All kinds of thoughts flashed through his mind.

    "Even someone like you dares to become sworn brothers with me?" Gao Lan cried in a tone that was both cold and mocking. Then he pressed down on the metal strip and turned to leave, as if someone who had not even reached the Exterior level, like Meng Qi, was not worth killing.

    The sensation of being dismembered by his sharp gaze slowly faded away. Meng Qi's eyes were fixed on the spot where Gao Lan had disappeared. He was left unable to collect himself for a while.


    Luoyang, Six Fan School's headquarters: Inside a room in a small blue tower.

    "I've just received news that Fairy of the Extinctive Sword is undergoing Life-risking Hermetic Training. We'll have to edit this round's Ranking List of Young Masters before publishing it." A man dressed in the dark red arrester uniform rushed into the room with a strip of paper in his hand. There was a blue official seal hanging from his waist.

    "Life-risking Hermetic Training?"

    "She's really following in her Master's footsteps!"

    The arresters inside were full of exclamations as they proceeded to change the Ranking List of Young Masters.

    Those who underwent Life-risking Hermetic Training either reached the Exterior level directly or perished, automatically excluding them from the ranking.

    The arresters were highly efficient, and the new Ranking List of Young Masters was completed in no time. They pasted it inside the room to allow those passing by to correct any errors on it.

    The arrester that had rushed into the room carefully inspected a few of the top names and realized that there had been a rather large change.

    "Name: Tie Sheng."

    "Kung Fu: Nine apertures level. Very close to opening Hidden Latch between eyebrows. The source of his Kung Fu is unclear, but it can create mystical phenomena to a small extent and enshrouds an area within a one mile radius in darkness. No light or sound can penetrate it and it is particularly effective in affecting one's senses and interfering with judgment. It can also create illusions and has an advantage in sharpness, speed and killing intent. He possesses a supreme art as well that enables him to transform into a killer sword comparable to Anatta Sword."

    "Battle records: He has killed countless Martial Artists under the level of Half-step Exterior Scenery in the grasslands, and has forced the Half-step Exterior Scenery-level leader of the horse bandits, Eagle King, to retreat twice. After heading down South, he hunted and killed the then 21st young master on the Ranking List of Young Masters, Fire-eyed Asura, and battled Killing Blade Su Meng at Happycloud Heights. The winner was unclear."

    "Rank: First."

    "Nickname: Wolf King."

    "Identity: A Rogue Cultivator from the grasslands."

    The arrester furrowed his eyebrows. The description of Wolf King's Kung Fu was much more detailed than before.

    He continued reading.

    "Name: Su Meng; former Dharma name: Zhen Ding."

    "Kung Fu: Eight or nine apertures level. He had cultivated the Golden Bell Shield at first, but seems to have decided to cultivate some other similar protective Hard Kung at present, possessing extraordinary power. He mainly uses the blade in his right hand and is assisted by the sword in his left. Though his sword art does not follow any system, it is adept at unleashing all of his strength, while his bladesmanship adopts the Gist of Trueness of the Ananda Oath-breaking Blade's first and second forms. It can be continuously used without activating Blood Essence."

    "With the assistance of his Precious Weapon, he can derive thunder-based Exterior-level moves. He can also exert a strike that is nearly on the level of the Exterior if he goes all out. At the same time, his Saber Dao and Essence is comparable to that of famous masters. He also possesses the means of calling Sky Thunder."

    "Battle records: Killed White-headed Vulture An Guoxie; barely defeated Right-guarding Sword Wang Zai in the practicing field of Yedu by one move; forced Ledgerkeeper of Lives Wang Siyuan to deflect his attack; narrowly bested Five Emperors' Knife Qing Yu in a street in Jiang Province's Changchuan; fled thousands of miles, encountered Shadow Cold Palm, Flame-scorching Devilman, and Soul-losing Flute's attack outside a shrine beside one of Dragon-rocky Mount's paths, and killed them in a one-versus-three match, though details about the fight are lacking; fought Wolf King in Happycloud Heights, though it is uncertain who won."

    "Rank: Second."

    "Nickname: Killing Blade, Reckless Monk, Thunder Blade Furious Monk."

    "Identity: An abandoned disciple of Shaolin Temple; a Jianghu swordsman."

    That arrester exhaled. "Gee, the number one and number two on the new Ranking List of Young Masters..."

    The bright moon hanging high in the night sky sprinkled its pallid radiance down on the earth. It struck a stark contrast against the vast darkness that extended far and wide, giving the night indefinite peace and tranquility.

    Meng Qi seemed to be the only one standing between heaven and earth.

    As he felt the night breeze blow at his face, Meng Qi slowly recovered from the shock. He started to softly chuckle to himself suddenly.

    After laughing, he pushed the wine jug away and gripped the body of his saber with his left hand. He stared into the distance, and then briefly dusted his black clothes before striding forward.

    It was time to head up North and kill Wolf King!
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