Mu Yu didn’t want to talk to Tian Ran about Lan Ling’er again after the latter sent him off the mountain with a front kick. Lan Ling’er didn’t kick hard, and Mu Yu didn’t suffer any lingering pain after the impact, but he was too embarrassed to face her again. Mu Yu didn’t blame Tian Ran for his failure. Instead, he cited his foolishness and lack of courage to just confess straight up as the root of his folly.
“Brother Mu Yu, don’t ignore me,” cried Tian Ran, adding the “brother” prefix the last few days.
“What? I can’t train with you pestering me,” Mu Yu grumbled.
“Shall we go to the city under Jiuhua Sect’s jurisdiction to dig up information on Ghost Gate?”
“A city? A place where there’s tasty food?” Xiaoshuai came out and asked.
“It’s not as if you can even eat,” Mu Yu teased.
Xiaoshuai bounced up and down. “Once I hatch, I’ll have my fill.”
Tian Ran took a liking to Xiaoshuai since meeting the egg that could talk. She cuddled him and said, “I’ll give you a tour, then.”
Xiaoshuai rubbed himself against Tian Ran’s chest. “Sister Tian Ran, your embrace is warm, gentle and comfortable.”
Mu Yu snatched shameless Xiaoshuai over and pitched him against a rock, dropping him into a shrub. After considering Tian Ran’s suggestion, Mu Yu was curious to see what shape the world of cultivation had taken and was keen on finding out more about Ghost Gate. He replied, “All right, let’s go check out Yi City.”
Xiaoshuai wiggled his way out of the shrubs – not without cursing under his breath, of course – and returned to Tian Ran’s embrace.
Uncle An was against Mu Yu and Tian Ran leaving the mountain. On second thought, nevertheless, he approved, albeit reluctantly, as Tian Ran was a Primordial Infant Realm cultivator.
Yi City, the city under Jiuhua Sect’s jurisdiction, was substantially smaller than Pine City. The majority of its population, nonetheless, were cultivators. The city was home to herb and material trade. Those who joined Green Pine Alliance stopped frequenting Yi City after the split. The city, consequently, became Jiuhua Alliance’s main assembly point. More recently, it became Golden Core Realm cultivators’ gathering zone.
Mu Yu and Tian Ran inconspicuously ambled through the streets. Mu Yu wasn’t a widely-recognised face even though his name was famous after his wins in the tournament. The duo learnt Reverend Jiuhua planned to form their alliance’s core guards. Reportedly, the guard squad was specifically tasked with protecting the alliance. He personally mentored the guards in the squad to ensure their elite status. There was no requisite requiring one to have membership in the alliance to qualify as a candidate. Applicants merely had to be Golden Core Realm cultivators and loyal to Reverend Jiuhua. He didn’t explicate the selection criteria. All that was known was it would be conducted in four days’ time.
Old Golden Core Realm cultivators who joined Jiuhua Alliance were considered laughing stock since they sold their freedom to Reverend Jiuhua. Meanwhile, Jiuhua Sect’s people joined other sects to assist in running them, but everyone was cognisant of what their real agenda was. The cultivators had to compete to raise their standing in the alliance. The rewards, therefore, were alluring.
Reverend Jiuhua offered up his energy to cleanse the guards’ bodies, upgrading their physiques and helping them ascend to higher realms. Thanks to the boost in their aptitudes, cultivators were eager to reap the benefits. Furthermore, most Golden Core Cultivators were getting on with age, so they wanted to extend their lifespans. The age problem was linked back to the lack of spiritual qi. If that wasn’t enough, there was the prestigious status as a core member of Jiuhua Alliance to lull cultivators in.
“You’re a Primordial Infant Realm cultivator. Can you do that cleanse thing?” Mu Yu quietly asked Tian Ran.
“As if. If it was possible to increase one’s aptitude so simply, everyone would be a prodigy. Cleansing one’s nerves and marrow is a real thing; however, it requires a marrow cleansing pill. As only Pill Cauldron Sect’s members can produce them, they’re extremely valuable. It’s a rank six pill capable of empowering an ordinary man with the ability to cultivate – guaranteed.”
“Great, what’s Pill Cauldron Sect?”
“I forgot you were uneducated on the world. They’re a sect that specialises in alchemy and apothecary. There are no alchemy sects, alchemists or pharmacists at Moyun Mountains. Alchemists capable of concocting rank five pills are considered rare and highly respected. As you might assume, Pill Cauldron Sect is venerated to the point even the eight great sects have to show them respect.”
“If Reverend Jiuhua can’t keep his word, what is recruiting so many Golden Core Realm cultivators for?”
“Honestly, I couldn’t tell you. Maybe it’s a ruse to lull more Golden Core Cultivators in?”
The duo dropped into a teahouse. They chose the specific teahouse since Tian Ran pointed out there were several impressive individuals. They couldn’t specify who said individuals were, unfortunately. Mu Yu let Xiaoshuai sleep in Tian Ran’s embrace under a piece of cloth so as to keep attention off them.
A virtually bald woman slowly made her way into the teahouse. Despite coughing with every step she took, having a hunched over posture and needing to support herself with a walking stick, her presence struck fear into those present. She was known as Granny Bishe, a reference to her green snake walking stick that had a red snake tongue on it. Word on the streets was that Granny Bishe could rival Daoist Qing Song back in the day and once refused to leave her mountain when he invited her.
She let the gossip in the teahouse fall on deaf ears as she made her way over to a table to sit.
The waiter at the teahouse was an ordinary human, so he felt on edge just serving so many cultivators.
Bang! An elder with red skin and white hair knocked on the ground with his red walking stick topped off with a dragon head. Upon entering, his warm aura, which contracted Granny Bishe’s and was more welcoming, erased Granny Bishe’s chilly aura. His name was Grandpa Chilong, a reference to his red dragon walking stick.
Grandpa Chilong and Granny Bishe were once considered the power couple of the world of cultivation. Alas, over a dozen years ago, they had a quarrel, leading to them feeling ready to take each other’s heads.
Granny Bishe picked up her teacup with her shaky hand. Half of her tea spilt, but the droplets floated in the air. When she saw Grandpa Chilong, she had the droplets turn and launched them at him. Grandpa Chilong vaporised the droplets before they could hit him.
“Old Woman, is that how you greet me after being separated for more than a decade?”
“You don’t appear to have much longer!” Granny Bishe blustered, in a voice akin to a high-pitched screech.
“Yeah, I think I’ll be needing a casket before you do,” indifferently responded Grandpa Chilong, looking completely contrary to his statement.
Nobody understood what point the former couple was making.