Translator: Atlas Studios Editor: Atlas Studios
Qi Yuan drank until midnight before he returned to the Little Qiong Peak.
It had already been seven or eight years since Li Changshou had last seen his master look this happy. As he walked, he hummed a melody that Li Changshou had never heard before.
When he passed by Li Changshou at the door, Qi Yuan shouted, “Changshou? Are you cultivating?”
“Master, your disciple is taking a break. I am relaxing my heart and mind today and preparing to cultivate tomorrow,” replied Li Changshou, who was seated on the straw bed with his eyes closed. He was just about to stand up and open the door for his master when he heard the latter laugh.
“Rest, rest. I am going back into seclusion. You did well this time. You used your escape techniques to save Martial Niece Youqin Xuanya of the Heaven-Breaking Peak. You have really glorified our Little Qiong Peak this time. However, you cannot become too proud of yourself. You must make cultivation your priority. Do not spend more time and effort than before on your escape techniques. Your own Dao Realm should be at the core!”
“Your disciple understands,” replied Li Changshou from inside the house.
Qi Yuan smiled as he stroked his beard, and said, “Mm, keep working hard to solidify your cultivation level. You cannot act with undue haste when cultivating. You have to progress steadily, step by step. That is the only way you will be able to cross major hurdles. Go ahead and rest. Your Master is going into seclusion. Ling’e has become haggard from worrying about you over the past few days. Remember to comfort her later on.”
“Yes,” replied Li Changshou in a warm tone.
Qi Yuan laughed and then continued humming as he walked into his own straw hut. After he entered, he activated several arrays around his house.
One needed silence while cultivating in seclusion. Noise-cancellation-type arrays and vigilance-type arrays were necessary.
Li Changshou looked at the jade boxes in his storage Dharma artifacts, and then heaved a sigh of relief. He would prepare for several more days before starting to build the Pill Chamber, which he had been dreaming about for a long time. Finally, he would be able to refine Immortal-Melting Pills.
If he could refine Immortal-Melting Pills successfully, and persuade his master to use these pills while he was enduring the Heavenly Tribulation, there would be a 90% chance that his master would survive.
To Postnatal living beings who wanted to live long, becoming an immortal through the Heavenly Tribulation was suffering that could not be avoided.
Once the Heavenly Lightning struck, the decision would be made on their life or death.
Since the ancient days, nobody dared to say with complete confidence that they would be able to make it through the Heavenly Tribulation alive.
Since he had been injured before, Qi Yuan’s Dao base was compromised, and his own cultivation level was not stable. The power of his soul was also about half that of ordinary cultivators in the Ninth Stage of Dao Requital.
If Li Changshou did not find other ways to help him, his master would surely die during the Heavenly Tribulation.
Yet, Qi Yuan insisted on enduring the Heavenly Tribulation to become an immortal.
Qi Yuan was not only the Master of Li Changshou and Lan Ling’e, but he was also the Peak Leader of the Little Qiong Peak. He was the only Peak Leader in the Immortal Du Sect, who had not yet ascended to immortality. The other senior Peak Leaders would never inform the Little Qiong Peak about the decisions they made.
In comparison, Aunt-Master Jiu Jiu, who had joined the Immortal Du Sect several years after Qi Yuan, was already a Perfected Immortal. Unfortunately, Qi Yuan was far behind her.
Before ascending to immortality, human cultivators had to be younger than 3,000 years old. This was the Dao limit. Qi Yuan actually had hundreds, maybe even over 1,000, of years to go.
However, Li Changshou knew that his master did not want to suppress his cultivation level any longer—much less did his master want to wait until he was running out of time before he took a gamble and tried ascending to immortality.
At times, Li Changshou even felt like his Master was hoping to die in the Heavenly Tribulation. Perhaps he wanted to endure the Heavenly Tribulation with this expectation of death, in the hopes that he would be able to survive!
Perhaps all of this sounded noble and enthusiastic. However, to Li Changshou, his master’s mindset was both stubborn and silly.
That was why Li Changshou had begun preparing 15 years ago…
That was the reason Li Changshou had decided to act against his principles for the very first time, by leaving the security of his own mountain and going to the North Continent. When he had found the Immortal-Emancipating Herb, he had also decided to take the risk and plot against the Three-Eyed Blue Wave Serpent, Yuwen Ling, and the others.
The core of Li Changshou’s first plan to ‘Help Master Endure the Tribulation’ involved refining Immortal-Melting Pills from Immortal-Emancipating Herbs.
When the time came for his master to endure the Heavenly Tribulation, Qi Yuan would only have to make it through the first tribulation in order to develop a wisp of immortal spiritual aura. Then, he would be able to swallow the Immortal-Melting Pill. The pill would allow him to feign death and activate the ‘Deliverance by Execution’. Then, he could avoid enduring the subsequent tribulations.
If immortals failed to endure the Heavenly Tribulation, they could go through Deliverance by Execution and become Turbid Immortals.
Turbid Immortals could not compare to Essence Immortals in terms of cultivation and mystical abilities. However, they had similar lifespans. They could also continue to cultivate.
According to the classic texts, the highest cultivation level that Turbid Immortals could achieve was the Perfected Immortal Realm. This route was often referred to as the Earth Immortal Dao, in contrast to the Heaven Immortal Dao.
As part of this first plan, Li Changshou had even managed to chart out the later years of his master’s life.
Qi Yuan would become an Earth Immortal and accumulate hundreds of years of cultivation. Then, he would go to the Heavenly Courts, which had just been set up and were lacking manpower. There, he would get an easy role as the Earth God of a small region, a Mountain God, or a River God. All he would have to do was enjoy fragrant offerings and enjoy a lifespan as long as ordinary Perfected Immortals.
If Qi Yuan managed to achieve something that would earn him rewards from the Heavenly Courts, he might even be able to live as long as Heaven Immortals.
At the same time, Qi Yuan could build a network in the Heavenly Courts. Once Li Changshou and his junior sister were ready, they could go to the Heavenly Courts and apply for an easy role as well. In the future, they could become elders of the Management Organization of the Three Realms. Then, they would enjoy an easy life until they died of old age.
That was a perfect plan.
“Refining this pill would not be considered cumbersome. If I could get a Perfected Immortal like Aunt-Master Jiu Jiu to help me, and if I could prepare more ingredients, I would be able to produce it. However…”
Li Changshou’s master was a model cultivator in the sect. He was the type that would rather suffer and die than lose his reputation. Persuading him to use such a method to survive would probably be much more difficult than finding the Immortal-Emancipating Herbs.
Still, as his disciple, Li Changshou had to endure this karma. This was a responsibility that he could not shy away from.
If this did not work, he would have to cheat and lie. He would have no choice but to wrap the Immortal-Melting Pill in candy and tell his master that it was a life-saving immortal pill.
Just thinking about this made Li Changshou smile.
The birds and bees cried out outside his window as he began to think about his own experience during this journey. He reflected on the areas in which he fell short.
Li Changshou was not good enough when he dealt with the Essence Immortal. He was also not fast enough in cleaning up.
He could improve on his Man-Forming Paper Cutouts. The clones he produced still did not look 100% realistic.
Li Changshou was also slow in transitioning between the escape techniques of the Five Elements. When he entered the roots of the old cypress tree, there were waves in the ground.
After a self-reflection period, Li Changshou found that he still had time to improve on these shortcomings. After all, there was no need for Li Changshou to go out on more expeditions. He would just remain on the mountain to cultivate.
As for his own Heavenly Tribulation, Li Changshou was in no hurry. As long as he was not 99% sure that he would survive the tribulation, Li Changshou would not take that step.
The remaining 1% chance was left in case there were spasms in the Heavenly Dao.
A rock knocked into the wooden wall of his straw hut. Li Changshou pinched his fingers together to count and realized that it was already past five in the morning.
He got to his feet and walked out of the straw hut, towards the house where his junior sister lived.
In the ten years since his junior sister had joined the sect, Lan Ling’e had been receiving lessons, make-up lessons, and life guidance from 03:00 to 05:00 a.m.
When Li Changshou arrived in front of her straw hut, he knocked on her door gently, causing it to open slightly on its own. Then, he pushed it and walked in.
A pink curtain flew towards him. Even the carpet underneath his feet had become pink.
Through the translucent screen, he saw a familiar figure lying on the bed, facing inwards. Her gauzy dress gave Li Changshou glimpses of a beautiful view.
The obstructed view, however, was the most forgiving—it spared one from developing dirty thoughts.
Li Changshou did not spare her a second glance. He sat at the host’s seat and said nonchalantly, “Stop pretending to be asleep. You don’t normally sleep in such a graceful position.”
He heard whining coming from behind the screen. “Senior Brother, I just learned how to produce the Soft Immortal Disperser. Now, I’m feeling quite dizzy and lightheaded. I can’t do anything else. My body is weak, and I have no energy.”
Li Changshou nodded. He stood up and said, “We’ll talk tomorrow then. It’s no big deal anyway.”
Lan Ling’e immediately shouted, “No!” Then, indignantly, she said, “Sit down! I’m coming out now! Hmph. You better explain clearly why you came back so late!”
There was a lot of swishing around before Lan Ling’e finally walked out from behind the screen in a long dress. She sat on the left side of the table and glared at Li Changshou furiously.
Li Changshou smiled helplessly and said, “Actually, we met with an accident. Do you know Yuan Qing of the Heaven-Breaking Peak?”
“Yes,” replied Lan Ling’e. She blinked and said, “He’s the disciple from the Heaven-Breaking Peak who went to the North Continent with you. He’s ranked second in our generation. It’s said that he’s quite gentle.”
“Remember: Men only put on an act of being gentle. He plotted against Youqin Xuanya this time, and Youqin Xuanya killed him.”
Li Changshou shook his head and organized the images surfacing in his memories.
“Everything he did was an example of losing the big picture for the sake of minor gains. He gave up his own identity as a disciple of the Immortal Du Sect, and insisted on obtaining worldly, transient royal powers.”
Lan Ling’e supported her chin with her hand and leaned forward on the table. Softly, she said, “Senior Brother, what happened?”
Li Changshou slowly explained, “Youqin Xuanya is the Sixth Princess of a country in the South Continent. Yuan Qing is the son of a concubine, belonging to a distinguished family. He is referred to as Fourth Young Master.
“Yuan Qing’s mother was probably a concubine, but she was a powerful one. She was the young mistress of another distinguished family and held some power herself.
“These people set their sights on the Sixth Princess, who had been sent as a disciple to the Immortal Du Sect.
“If Yuan Qing married the Sixth Princess, not only would he become the prince of that worldly country, but he would also be able to hold more power in his own household. At the same time, there would be a possibility of him governing an entire country in the future. That was why they expended so much effort and made sure Yuan Qing entered the Immortal Du Sect as well.
“However, Yuan Qing was not very successful. Even after 60 years, he failed to win the beauty’s heart. The people supporting him grew worried. At last, they decided that they could not wait any longer. They decided to take this risk…”
Li Changshou briefly explained everything that had happened to his junior sister.
“Now, not only did these people fail, they incurred huge losses. Both families are going to be implicated. Their Country Lord might have to uproot all of them in order to appease the Immortal Du Sect.”
Seeing Lan Ling’e in deep thought, Li Changshou said warmly, “Little E, what dis you learn from this story?”
Lan Ling’e hummed in a low voice. Then, she decisively said, “Women should never become concubines! Otherwise, we would have to expend a lot of effort to gain a bit of power!”
Li Changshou could not help but rest his forehead on his hand. “What else?”
“This Yuan Qing’s plan was awful. What’s more, the influential members of these distinguished families severely underestimated the power of the Immortal Du Sect and the value of its disciples.”
Lan Ling’e began her analysis very seriously. “I think that they should have worked to beat down Youqin Xuanya. They should have tolerated their desire for several thousand years until Yuan Qing became a Heaven Immortal. Then, he could have secretly become a king of a worldly country. Using his powers, he could have collected the wealth of his people and donated it to the Immortal Du Sect. That would have increased his status and importance in the sect. That way, he would have succeeded in terms of his immortal cultivation and his worldly pursuits! Wanting to rise to power as the husband of a princess would be fantasizing. These kings have no lack of sons.”
Li Changshou was rendered speechless.
“Forget it. Let’s take this as music to the ears. You come from a distinguished, worldly family as well. I wanted to remind you to be cautious.”
“Hehe.” Lan Ling’e giggled. “Don’t worry, Senior Brother. Ling’e will not go anywhere without you.”
Li Changshou could not help but shake his head and laugh. “Hand me your medicine sachet. I’ll fill it up for you. You must have used quite a bit this time.”
Lan Ling’e immediately looked guilty. She slowly sat upright and crossed her long, slender legs. She rested both of her hands on her knees and averted her beautiful eyes. She was acting—obedient, cute, and distracted.
‘Come on. I didn’t waste the poisonous powder and pills that Senior Brother gave me this time…’