Translator: Atlas Studios Editor: Atlas Studios
The sky was clear, and there was a gentle breeze as the sun warmed up the surroundings.
In one of the accommodations of the Nine Jiu Immortals on the Heaven-Breaking Peak…
Jiu Wu supported his back with his hand. His five-feet-tall body swayed in front of his own building, as his immortal powers flowed weakly. He no longer felt exhausted.
Three days had passed since he and Jiu Shi had returned from the Little Qiong Peak. He just sent his Dao companion into seclusion. In his heart, he began to think about whether he should continue cultivating or walk around the Bai Fan Hall.
At that moment, a huge wine gourd landed from above.
Jiu Wu immediately perked up and clasped his hands behind his back, looking as serious as he would on any ordinary day. He cleared his throat and shouted, “Little Jiu! Come to Senior Brother’s for a while.”
“Senior Brother? I was going to look for you. I brought you what you wanted… Ha…”
Jiu Jiu stuck out her head from the wine gourd. Unable to hold in her yawn, she put her hand over her mouth. Jiu Wu noted that even her body seemed to be slumped over.
The wine gourd swayed back and forth and finally landed in front of Jiu Wu’s building.
The Nine Jiu Immortals each had great potential. They were also some of the best cultivators of their generation. Apart from Jiu Jiu, each of them had developed their own ‘side occupation’.
Jiu Shi was an expert in refining equipment and treasures, while Jiu Wu was an expert in brewing wine and refining pills. Thus, every corner of the ground floor of Jiu Wu’s building was filled with wine vats, materials for treasure, and pill furnaces.
It was obvious that this was the source of Jiu Jiu’s habit of not cleaning up after herself. The only difference was her habit seemed to be more intensified.
Jiu Wu yawned again. Treating Jiu Wu’s house like her own, she sat at a round table without invitation and threw a little cage over to Jiu Wu.
“Senior Brother, this is the little spider you wanted. Don’t kill it. Don’t you feel embarrassed asking a junior for things all the time?!”
“It’s rare that you didn’t forget,” answered Jiu Wu. He opened the wooden cage and glanced at the black cloth. A grin spread across his face.
There was a pair of spiders inside, which were separated from each other. Each of them had three huge heads and many strong pupils.
Jiu Jiu yawned once again, looking exhausted. “Senior Brother, if there’s nothing else, I’m going home.”
“Wait, let me look for some things.” Jiu Wu jogged to a cool, dark place in his house and hung the cage there. Then, he turned around and jogged to a bookshelf.
Jiu Jiu slumped onto the table listlessly. “Senior Brother, what are you doing? I’m very tired now. I want to drink something and sleep for a few days.”
Jiu Wu, who had been searching the bookshelf, turned around to study Jiu Jiu. It was only then that he recalled he could not tell his junior sister’s cultivation level just by looking at her now, much less her physical situation.
However, when he thought about the scene he witnessed in the Pill Chamber, he immediately sighed in his heart. He felt the sadness of a father.
‘Forget it, when a girl is of age, she must be married off. Dao companions are prevalent in the sect. My Junior Sister would not be able to escape her fate…
‘Where did this practice come from?
‘One had to look at the older generation of Heaven Immortals. Among the ten-odd elders of our Immortal Du Sect, there were four pairs of loving Dao companions. The young follow the examples set by the old. There’s really no one else to blame.’
Jiu Jiu sighed in frustration as she lay on the table, thinking about her experience refining pills with a certain martial nephew…
Although it was an interesting and curious experience, and her martial nephew gave her many benefits, including poisonous pills that could poison Perfected Immortals, she could not relax the entire time. To her, this was quite exhausting.
Jiu Jiu had never felt this tired in her life. Faintly, Jiu Jiu mumbled, “He is just a kid in the Void Return Realm, yet he was able to torment me for so long. I’m so tired!”
The jade slip in Jiu Wu’s hand slipped out and landed on the floor. The short Daoist raised his hand and heaved a long sigh. His eyes began to well up.
‘Little Jiu has really… grown up…’
It was finally time for this Fifth Senior Brother, who had played her father for so long, to let her enjoy her life of cultivation.
Jiu Wu picked up the jade slip once again and looked at the huge words carved into it.
‘Overall Principles of Array Formations, by the useless Wang Qing.’
Jiu Wu took two more jade slips out from the bookshelf’s corner before walking back towards Jiu Jiu.
“Little Jiu, hand these things to Martial Nephew Changshou on my behalf,” said Jiu Wu warmly as he used his immortal powers to transport the jade slips in front of Jiu Jiu. “These are outlines of array formations written by Master, as well as the lessons Third Senior Sister and I have learned after studying array formations all these years.”
“Eh?” Jiu Jiu picked up the jade slips and then threw them into her storage Dharma treasure. Confused, she asked, “Senior Brother, why are you suddenly so concerned about Little Shoushou?”
‘Little… Little Shoushou? Didn’t I only develop a nickname like that for Little Shi Shi when we were flirting?’
Jiu Wu raised his head and sucked in a deep breath. Then, with a kind and warm smile on his face, he said gently, “After we met in the North Continent the last time, I realized he is quite an earnest young man. That’s right. Your Fourth Senior Sister has also made several new clothes for you.”
Jiu Wu retrieved a sack and handed it to Jiu Jiu.
“Here are some rouge and jewelry for women as well. If you like them, you can ask your Senior Sister to make more for you…”
“Clothes? What clothes?”
Jiu Jiu picked up the sack and reached in, pulling out a thin, gauzy dress at random. Immediately, a few black lines appeared on her forehead.
“Senior Brother… since when have I worn something like that?”
“Cough, don’t blame your Senior Brother for being nosy. Junior Sister, although you are naturally beautiful, you need to dress up once in a while. That’s right, did you and Martial Nephew Changshou… start two years ago?”
“Two years ago? Start?”
Jiu Jiu scanned Jiu Wu from head to toe, frowning and pursing her lips. Suddenly, she threw the gauzy dress back into the sack. Not knowing whether to laugh or cry, she asked, “Don’t tell me that you think Little Shoushou and I are together!?”
Jiu Wu paused. “Aren’t you?”
“Pfft!” Jiu Jiu made a face of disgust. “What do you take your Junior Sister for?! Am I the kind who would go after martial nephews?! I can’t bring myself to go after young, tender flesh!”
Jiu Wu stared at Jiu Jiu. “Then why have you been going to the Little Qiong Peak so often over the last two years?!”
“I was helping to set up array formations,” answered Jiu Jiu as she spread out her hands. “I was banned from wine for three years. Martial Nephew gave me good drinks to replace wine. In return, I helped him set up array formations.”
Jiu Wu’s eyes widened. “Junior Sister, you were the one who set up the array formation on the Little Qiong Peak?”
“That’s right. I did it myself!”
Jiu Jiu raised her eyebrows proudly. However, she quickly explained the situation. “Senior Brother, you know I’m not interested in array formations. Changshou was the one who told me where to place what. Then, when the array formation was coming into shape, I was in charge of suppressing the spiritual energy flow. However, during this period, there was no need for me to set up any more array formations. I could not take the benefits for nothing, could I? These few days, I helped him refine a pill…
“Senior Brother, what’s the matter? Your expression is so strange.”
A realization dawned on Jiu Wu. He stood up and paced the room. “The chain array formation was not set up by someone who had not ascended to immortality. It’s no wonder that only simple mazes and trapping arrays were used! He used his smarts and your hands in order to develop something like that. Amazing… amazing! This Li Changshou does not have elite-level potential, but he is in the Void Return Realm even though he joined the sect about 100 years ago. That means he is slightly better than average. If one nurtures him, he will have no problem ascending to immortality. He can make something of himself with hard work.”
At the side, Jiu Jiu yawned and stood up quietly. Her head was lowered, her body was bent over, and her arms were hanging by her side as she drifted towards the door.
“Senior Brother, I’m going back to rest. Refining pills is so tiring.”
“Ai, Little Jiu, the three jade slips that I handed to you!” Jiu Wu quickly said, “I think you should give them back to me. These are treasures belonging to our line of succession. We should not hand them out so easily.”
“They’re just some of the lessons you learned. Why do you have to be so stingy?” Jiu Jiu rolled her eyes and tossed two bottles to Jiu Wu. “I’ll make the decision. I’m using a few poisonous pills that Little Shoushou made in order to obtain these lessons from you. That should do it, right?
“These are poisonous pills that can injure even Perfected Immortals! It was a product of some of my hard work, too.”
“Those are not just ordinary lessons— Poisonous pills!?”
Jiu Wu caught the bottles and frowned as he studied them.
Jiu Wu was already drifting out of Jiu Wu’s building and returning to her own. What’s more, she was activating the huge array outside her building.
Jiu Wu could not help but laugh. ‘There is nothing wrong with Ninth Junior Sister giving him these jade slips. After all, Li Changshou is a disciple of their own sect as well.’
Jiu Wu surrounded his body with immortal power and sent the bottles tens of feet away from himself. Then, he opened the bottles from afar. Looking in, he discovered that there were three red pills in each bottle. They were emitting a light fragrance.
“They are Bone- and Mind-Rotting Pills and Soul-Transforming Killing PIlls? They are of good quality as well. Although they are poisonous pills, they are of similar quality as immortal pills. Were these refined using Little Jiu’s powers as well? This Li Changshou is something.”
Jiu Wu could not help but laugh again. Then, he spotted something else on the bottles. He brought them closer so that he could study the bottles.
There were two lines of words on the bottles. Placing the bottles side-by-side, he realized that the sentences flowed.
The short Daoist mumbled as he held the bottles up, “It’s rare to find some peace on the road to immortality; refrain from worldly riches and make a gentlemen’s agreement.” Finally, a small smile appeared on his lips.
“This fella had indeed discovered Shi Shi and I. That was why he intentionally undid the array formation. With these words, he is explaining that there is a working relationship between him and Little Jiu. He’s asking us not to worry.
“That’s not right. How did he know that these two bottles would end up in the hands of Shi Shi or me? Little Jiu would not have noticed the words on the bottles. Even if she did, she would not care. It’s obvious that the message is meant for us. What’s more, it was probably written using Dharmic powers a while ago. These were the remnants of the writing.
“Is he also trying to tell me to act like I did not realize the various abnormalities on the Little Qiong Peak?”
The short Daoist kept the bottles, clasped his hands behind his back, and walked towards the side of the table. He rubbed his chin and pondered deeply.
Jiu Wu recalled the time he had spotted Li Changshou and Youqin Xuanya’s traces in the North Continent. At the time, he had also stumbled upon many set-ups within a 50-kilometer radius.
Jiu Wu looked up and saw the wooden cage hanging in the cool, dark place.
These demonic spiders were extremely hard to rear. Yet, they kept reproducing at the Little Qiong Peak.
In addition to the chain array formations and poisonous pills that he saw over the past few days…
Jiu Wu sighed and said, “You’re formidable, young man. You remained inconspicuous and hidden. Before you went to the North Continent, not many people knew about you. You are not ranked among the younger generation of cultivators, either. You don’t want people to pay attention to you so that you can hide in a quiet place and cultivate. I don’t want to disturb you, too. However, as an attendant of the Immortal Du Sect, I cannot let my guard down with you.
“Pui, some peace, gentlemen’s agreement… Meet at 11:45 PM1?”
Jiu Wu halted, the smile slowly disappearing from his face.
At 11:45 PM, Jiu Wu rode a cloud towards the Little Qiong Peak.
At that moment, the array formation around the Pill Chamber had already been deactivated. A tall figure stood at the door of the Pill Chamber. He cupped his hands and bowed towards Jiu Wu.
Jiu Wu smiled and landed from the sky. From outside the Pill Chamber, he smelled mellow and rich wine.
Li Changshou greeted him. “Your disciple pays his greetings to Uncle-Master.”
“Good use of ‘gentlemen’s agreement’ and ‘some peace’,” said Jiu Wu as he smiled and shook his head. He sighed softly and said, “Weren’t you afraid I wouldn’t turn up? What if I dragged you to the Punishment Hall to be questioned?”
“Well,” said Li Changshou, with his hands still cupped, and his body still bowed. Warmly, he continued, “Your disciple was not sure either. What’s more, ever since I met Uncle-Master at the North Continent, I have been worried. Yet, I knew that Uncle-Master is a person of virtue and prestige. You would not purposely make life difficult for a disciple in your sect.
“What’s more, your disciple is just unwilling to attract too much attention. I am completely loyal to the Immortal Du Sect. I also know my responsibilities as a disciple of the sect. I act righteously according to my conscience, and I am not afraid to be questioned.
“Uncle-Master, please come in and rest.
“Your disciple knows that Uncle-Master is an expert in brewing wine. I asked my Junior Sister to prepare several dishes to go with wine. May I be so bold as to invite Uncle-Master to have a taste of the wine I brewed?
“Uncle-Master, if you have any questions, please ask me tonight. Your disciple will consider carefully and answer you truthfully. I just hope to dispel the worries in Uncle-Master’s heart, so that your disciple can continue to cultivate peacefully as before.”
Jiu Wu smiled and nodded. With his hands behind his back, he walked into the Pill Chamber.
The pure moonlight shone through a window. Under the moonlight, a short table was filled with fine delicacies. A luminous cup was already filled with premium wine.
In fact, that was the Ganges River’s Dry Wine that Li Changshou had brewed for Jiu Jiu. He had opened one small vat in advance.